The three members of the House of Representatives accused of sexual misconduct have dared the government of the United States to back their allegation with video evidence.
The outgoing US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle, had on June 9, written to Speaker Yakubu Dogara, accusing Rep Mohammed Garba Gololo (APC, Bauchi) of “grabbing” a hotel maid.
He also accused Reps Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) and Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom) of requesting for prostitutes through car park attendants.
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The trio were accused of sexual assault while attending a leadership programme in the United States in April 2016.
On Wednesday, during their appearance at the Joint Committees of the House of Representatives on Ethics and Privileges and Foreign Affairs for questioning, the 3 embattled lawmakers, vented words of utter spleen, daring the US government to come up with evidence.
Speaking on the matter, Gololo stressed that the allegation against him was spurious, adding that during his stay at the Mariot Hotel in US, there was no time a maid entered his room.
“I never grabbed any housemaid. I take this matter seriously. I demand an apology and retraction from the ambassador.
“I insist that the evidence against me be produced. I demand video of the allegation”, he fumed.
On his part, Gbillah said that he never had any cause to speak with an attendant throughout the programme.
“I dare the US government to produce the video evidence on the incident.”
Also testifying, Ikon stated that: “It was most devastating, demeaning and embarrassing to be accused of such misconduct.
“I did not request the assistance of anybody nor did I desire a prostitute. I was never questioned on the alleged issue in the US or in Nigeria for the issue.
They also stated that the US Embassy and by extension the US government had a pre-determined motive for selecting the ten lawmakers for the leadership programme which held in April without passing through proper diplomatic channel.
The accused lawmakers said the speculation regarding the US Embassy and the Home Office having a hidden agenda became inevitable given the manner in which they handled the travelling arrangements by not routing their invitation to the programme through the Foreign Affairs Ministry and by not informing the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC of their presence and mission in the US.
Another issue of contention at the hearing was the absence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who for the second time failed to turn up at the hearing despite postponement of the meeting last week Thursday.
The minister on Wednesday wrote the chairman, House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Osai Nicholas Osai, expressing regrets for not being able to attend the rescheduled hearing due to the need to attend the Federal Executive Council meeting to brief the council on what happened at the AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
The committee, though recognising the need for the minister to brief the council, however, insisted that he be present at the hearing as it needs to finish with the matter and lay it to rest before proceeding on long vacation today.