Gowon: House Summons British Envoy, Demands Apology

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Yakubu Gowon

By Adedayo Akinwale

The House of Representatives has summoned the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, over the recent comments made by a member of the British parliament, Tom Tugendhat, against a former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon.

Tugendhat, had on November 23, during a debate in the UK parliament on petitions by Nigerians calling for sanction against the officials involved in the Lekki Toll Gate shooting, accused Gowon of taking half of the money in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with him when he went on exile.

He alleged: “Some people will remember when General Gowon left Nigeria with half the Central Bank and moved to London.”

But at the resumed plenary on Tuesday, the House demanded that Tugendhat tenders a public apology to Gowon and Nigerians.

The Green Chamber also mandated its Committee on Foreign Affairs to interface with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British parliament over the comments.

The resolution of the House followed the adoption of a motion by Hon. Yusuf Gagdi, who insisted that no evidence was provided to back the claim.

Moving the motion, Gagdi said that the false allegations by a British lawmaker against Gowon could incite violence against him and could disrupt the peace of the country.

He stated: “Yakubu Gowon is under my constituent and the statement that he went with half of the CBN should not be made by a parliament as such in the UK.

“It beats the imagination of the country for the parliamentarian to stand on the floor of the UK Parliament and utter such statements without fact. Gen Gowon has never been attributed to any form of crime and he has made various contributions to the country and cannot be allowed to be ridiculed by such.”

Moving an amendment to one of the prayers in the motion, Hon. Kingsley Chinda said the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Diplomatic Relations should investigate the allegations and reach out to the parliament as the statement was not a position of the UK parliament but a statement by a member.

Chinda’s amendment was adopted by the House.

The House, therefore, resolved that the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, should write to the Speaker of U.K parliament to express displeasure over the unfounded allegations.