The House of Representatives on Tuesday cleared three of its members of the sexual misconduct allegations levelled against them by a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle.
They are House Deputy Chairman, Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Mr. Terse Mark-Gbillah (APC, Benue); Mr. Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom); and Mr. Mohammed Garba-Gololo (APC, Bauchi).
The US authorities had accused the three of committing the alleged misconduct during a leadership training in the US in April, prompting the House to call for an investigation.
Its Joint Committees on Ethics/Privileges and Foreign Relations, had conducted the investigation.
The committees were jointly chaired by Mr. Nicholas Ossai and Ms. Nnena Ukeje.
The narrative changed in favour of Mark-Gbillah, Garba-Gololo and Ikon after the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, appeared before the committees on July 21 to testify that the US did not produce any concrete evidence to prove the allegations.
Entwistle too failed to appear before the committees, while a female maid, who alleged that Garba-Gololo “grabbed” her, also declined to testify.
A report of the committees, which was considered and approved by the House in Abuja on Tuesday, cleared the members of any wrongdoing in the US.
The report made three recommendations to the session, which was presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun.
It read, “That Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo, Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah and Hon. Samuel Ikon are cleared of and exonerated from 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 communications in its dealings with any organ or institution of government.”
The House adopted all three recommendations soon after Ossai briefed members on the findings of the investigation.
He stated, “The committee was not availed of any concrete evidence outside the confidential letter the Ambassador wrote the speaker.
“There was no video, audio or any form of evidence presented before the committee to justify the allegations.”
While testifying on July 21, Onyeama had told the committee how he encountered Entwistle over the allegations, but could not get “concrete evidence.”
He explained how the former Ambassador also apologised for not using the official diplomatic channel of routing his letter to the Speaker (Mr. Yakubu Dogara) through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Punch