Three members of the House of Representatives are facing probe after the United States government petitioned the House, and withdrew their visas over sexual misconduct during an official programme they attended in the US.
The trio, Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah [Benue], Hon. Samuel Ikon [Akwa Ibom] and Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo had attended a training programme in the United States of America last month.
Hon. Gololo, representing the Gamawa Federal Constituency of Bauchi State, was accused of attempting to rape a housekeeper in the hotel they lodged.
The 41-year-old and his co-accused, Hon. Gbillah, representing Gwer-West/Gwer-East Federal Constituency of Benue State and Hon. Ikon, representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium, were alleged in a petition by the United States Government, addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, of sexual harassment, weird sexual behaviours and soliciting for sex from female guests and the hotel staff.
The formal complaint signed by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle reads in full: “Ten members of the Nigerian National Assembly recently travelled to Cleveland, Ohio as participants in the International Visitor Leadership Programme on good governance. We received troubling allegations regarding the behaviour of three members of the delegation to the U.S. Government’s flagship professional exchange programme.
“The U.S. Department of State and the Cleveland Council on World Affairs received reports from employees of the Cleveland hotel where the representatives stayed, alleging the representatives engaged in the following behaviour: Mohammed Garba Gololo allegedly grabbed a housekeeper in his hotel room and solicited her for sex.
“While the housekeeper reported this to her management, this incident could have involved local law enforcement and resulted in legal consequences for Representative Gololo. Mark Terseer Gbillah and Samuel Ikon allegedly requested hotel parking attendants assist them to solicit prostitutes.
“The U.S. Mission took pains to confirm these allegations and the identities of the individuals with the employees of the hotel in Cleveland. The conduct described above left a very negative impression of Nigeria, casting a shadow on Nigeria’s National Assembly, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and to the American hosts’ impression of Nigeria as a whole. Such conduct could affect some participants’ ability to travel to the United States in the future.
“While the majority of Nigerian visitors to the United States do behave appropriately, even a few Nigerians demonstrating poor judgement leads to a poor impression of the Nigerian people generally, though it is far from accurate.
“Such incidents jeopardise the ability of future programming and make host institutions and organisations less likely to welcome similar visits in the future.
“In addition, most of the members of this group reacted very negatively to my deputy when she brought this matter to their attention, further calling into question their judgement and commitment to the goals of the International Visitor Leadership Programme.
“This leads us to question whether to include National Assembly members for other similar programmes in the future. I request, in the strongest possible terms, you share this message with members of the National Assembly so they understand the seriousness of these issues, and the potential consequences of their actions, not only for themselves as individuals, but also for the future of such programmes designed to benefit Nigeria.”
Speaker Dogara has directed the investigation of the three members of the House involved in the rape scandal.
“We received a letter from the US Ambassador, alleging misconduct by some members of the National Assembly, who attended a training programme in the United States of America.
“The leaderships of the House has commenced its own part of the investigation. When it is concluded, we will brief Nigerians further on this issue,” the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas told newsmen on Thursday in Abuja.