As the House of Representatives receive and debate the report of its joint committee on ethics and privileges and foreign relations on allegations of sexual misconduct against three lawmakers, there are indications that the legislators have been given a clean bill of health.
New Telegraph reliably learnt that the three accused lawmakers have been cleared of the allegations for lack of evidence. The three legislators are Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo (APC, Bauchi), Hon. Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom) and Hon. Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue).
The committee, cochaired by Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai and Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, was mandated to investigate the allegations levelled against the lawmakers by the then United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle. The committee conducted its investigation and completed the public probe since July before the House proceeded on annual recess.
The report was listed on the order paper last Wednesday, but its presentation was put off. But sources close to the Rules and Business Committee told New Telegraph that the report will be presented this week.
Also, sources close to the Ethics and Privileges Committee confirmed to our correspondent that the accused lawmakers have been cleared by the probe committee. “I don’t have details of the findings and recommendations, but the snippets of what I saw, the lawmakers have no question to answer.
“It is the responsibility of he that alleges to prove. But in this case, the American embassy had no evidence, so the committee had no alternative but to clear the honourable members,” said the source. New Telegraph had, on June 16, 2016, in an exclusive story, published a letter written to Speaker Yakubu Dogara, alleging that three lawmakers were accused of attempted rape and soliciting for prostitutes while on a US visitor programme in April 2016. Entwistle had brought the incident to the notice of the speaker via a letter written on June 9.
The accused lawmakers were among a group of Nigerians who travelled to Cleveland, Ohio on the invitation of the US Government. Gololo was alleged to have sexually assaulted a housekeeper in his hotel room while Gbillah and Ikon were accused of soliciting for prostitutes through car park attendants.
Consequently, the US embassy cancelled visas of the three lawmakers, banning them from visiting the country for three years. Gbillah had written to the US ambassador in protest, demanding the “full video/CCTV footage covering the period of their entire stay at the hotel,” saying “this should clearly show the movements and activities of every member of the group throughout the hotel.”
Ikon, on his part, insisted that he was innocent, saying his was a case of mistaken identity. Although, the US Government was touted to have video footage of the incidents, it could not produce any before the investigative committee.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama had, in his testimony before the probe panel, said he interacted with the US Ambassador, Entwistle, but the envoy confirmed to him that the US Embassy had no video evidence to present to the House to back up the allegations.
He also revealed that the housekeeper who accused Gololo of grabbing her and soliciting for sex also refused to testify or substantiate the allegations. According to the minister, “The first point I made to him (ambassador) was that he had not at any stage briefed the Foreign Affairs Ministry about the allegations, he acknowledged that that was a failing on his side and apologised. “The first thing he said was that he wrote what he believed was a confidential letter to the Speaker of this House.
That he felt obliged to write the letter because of the framework of the visit – government-to-government agreement and it was merely information that there were allegations against three members of the Nigerian delegation. He didn’t say anything about the position of the American government.”