Sex Scandal: House Exonerates Accused Lawmakers

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• Legislators to pursue legal action

Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The House of Representatives yesterday cleared and exonerated three of its members of allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against them by the former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle.

Entwistle, in June 2016, wrote a letter to Speaker Yakubu Dogara accusing Hon. Mark Gbillah (Benue, APC), Hon. Samuel Ikon (Akwa Ibom, PDP) and Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo (Bauchi, APC) of soliciting for sex while on a trip to Ohio in April 2016.

The lawmakers were part of a group of 10 lawmakers sponsored by the U.S. government on its International Visitors Leadership Programme.

Adopting the report of its Committee on Ethics and Privileges, which was mandated to investigate the allegations, the House cleared the lawmakers for lack of evidence.

The chairman of the committee, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai, recalled that Entwistle did not honour the committee’s invitation to present the evidence implicating the men.

The report of the committee, which was co-chaired by the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Hon. Nnenna Elendu Ukeje, read: “That Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo, Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah and Hon. Samuel Ikon are cleared of and exonerated of the allegations levelled against them by the United States Ambassador to Nigeria in his June 9, 2016 letter to the Rt. Hon. Speaker, for want of evidence;

“That in the light of the foregoing, the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs do engage with the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, with a view to finding a seamless resolution of the domestic fallout of this unfortunate incident as it relates to Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo, Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah and Hon. Samuel Ikon;

“That the Ministry of Foreign Affairs do write to remind the United States Embassy of the need to always adopt the official channel of communication in its dealings with any organ or institution of government.”

Despite the resolution of the allegation in the House, there were indications that the accused lawmakers might still pursue legal action against Entwistle.

Gbillah told THISDAY in a telephone conversation that the trio would sue the former envoy for defamation of character.

“This (the House report) is even more so the reason why we should go ahead, because this was an injustice that we cannot allow to go unchallenged.

“So that next time they will not treat any Nigerian this way,” he said.