The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, on Thursday directed the investigation of three members of the House over an alleged sex scandal.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, confirmed this in Abuja, saying that the leadership of the House took the action following a formal complaint made by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle.
He said, “We are in receipt of a letter from the US Ambassador, alleging misconduct by some members of the National Assembly, who attended a training programme in the United States of America.
“The leaderships of the House has commenced its own part of the investigation. When it is concluded, we will brief Nigerians further on this issue.”
But, Namdas declined to answer questions on how the investigation would be conducted.
He did not say if a special committee had been constituted for the assignment or whether it would be conducted by the regular Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
“When we say we will conduct an investigation, we will conduct it and there will be a report,” Namdas stated.
The development came as the US formally withdrew its visas from the three lawmakers, an indication that they had been barred from future trips to the United States.
The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, had petitioned the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, accusing some members of the lower chamber of improper conduct, attempted rape and soliciting for prostitutes while on official trip to the U.S.
The Ambassador, in a letter dated June 9, 2016 specifically accused Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo (APC, Bauchi), Hon. Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom) and Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) of attempting to rape an Hotel housekeeper at the International Visitor Leadership Programme.
Below is the extract of the U.S. Ambassador’s petition:
“It is with regret that I must bring to your attention the following situation. Ten members of the Nigerian National Assembly recently travelled to Cleveland, Ohio as participants in the International Visitor Leadership Programme on good governance.
“We received troubling allegations regarding the behaviour of three members of the delegation to the U.S. Government’s flagship professional exchange programme.
“The U.S Department of State and the Cleveland Council on World Affairs received reports from employees of the Cleveland hotel where the representatives stayed, alleging the representatives engaged in the following behaviour:
“Mohammed Garba Gololo allegedly grabbed a housekeeper in his hotel room and solicited her for sex. While the housekeeper reported this to her management, this incident could have involved local law enforcement and resulted in legal consequences for Representative Gololo.
“Mark Terseer Gbillah and Samuel Ikon allegedly requested hotel parking attendants assist them to solicit prostitutes.
The U.S. Mission took pains to confirm these allegations and the identities of the individuals with the employees of the hotel in Cleveland, Entwistle said.
“The conduct described above left a very negative impression of Nigeria, casting a shadow on Nigeria’s National Assembly, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and to the American hosts’ impression of Nigeria as a whole. Such conduct could affect some participants’ ability to travel to the United States in the future.
“While the majority of Nigerian visitors to the United States do behave appropriately, even a few Nigerians demonstrating poor judgement leads to a poor impression of the Nigerian people generally, though it is far from accurate.
“Such incidents jeopardise the ability of future programming and make host institutions and organisations less likely to welcome similar visits in the future.
“In addition, most of the members of this group reacted very negatively to my deputy when she brought this matter to their attention, further calling into question their judgement and commitment to the goals of the International Visitor Leadership Programme. This leads us to question whether to include National Assembly members for other similar programmes in the future.
“I request, in the strongest possible terms, you share this message with members of the National Assembly so they understand the seriousness of these issues, and the potential consequences of their actions, not only for themselves as individuals, but also for the future of such programmes designed to benefit Nigeria”.