Alleged sex scandal: Absence of minister, US Ambassador stalls probe of 3 lawmakers

THE absence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama and the outgoing United States (US) Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle, on Thursday, stalled the investigative hearing into the allegation of sexual misconduct levelled against three members of the House of Representatives by the outgoing United States (US) Ambassador.

This led to the House of Representatives Committees on Ethics & Privileges and Foreign Affairs to adjourn the investigative hearing till July 20.

The three lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct are Honourable Mohammed Gololo, Samuel Ikon and Mark Gbillah.

The House had, after the allegation against the lawmakers was made public, promised to conduct an open investigative hearing on the matter.

The House committees mandated to probe the allegation had written to the ambassador through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asking him to come and justify his action and as well invited the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Onyeama,  but the duo failed to show up.

The co-chairman of the joint committee, Honourable Nicholas Ossai, in his opening remarks, explained that both the minister and the US ambassador were meant to appear together at the hearing.

To this end, the committee chairman read a letter from the minister, where he pleaded with the committee that he was away for an African Union (AU) summit holding in Kigali, Rwanda, hence his inability to make it for the investigative hearing.

He then asked the committee to put the hearing at a later date for which he would appear.

On his part, the Chairman House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Honourable Nnenna-Elendu Ukeje, said  the diplomatic angle to the matter would be handled according to Vienna convention of 1961.

The lawmaker also faulted the outgoing US ambassador’s resolve to channel his letter on the alleged sexual misconduct to the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, instead of through the ministry, in line with  Vienna convention of 1961.

Specifically, Honourable Ossai said  the US ambassador had waived his right by routing the letter straight to the Speaker, instead of writing the letter through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.