Three lawmakers accused of grabbing a female housekeeper as well as soliciting for prostitutes during the International Visitor Leadership Programme in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, from April 7 to 13, 2016, have challenged the outgoing US ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, to produce a video evidence of the allegation levelled against them.
The outgoing US envoy had in a petition to the speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, alleged that the actions of the three lawmakers brought disrepute to the parliament by soliciting for sex from prostitutes and grabbing hotel housekeeper in a bid to rape.
The three accused lawmakers include Mohammed Garba Gololo (APC, Bauchi), Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom), and Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue).
Other lawmakers who also participated in the leadership programme are Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi (PDP- Nasarawa), Danburam Abubakar Nuhu (APC-Kano), Nkole Uko Ndukwe (PDP-Abia), Rita Orji (PDP-Lagos), and Ayo Huliyat Omidiran (APC-Osun).
At the resumed investigative hearing yesterday, the three accused lawmakers were visibly present, but Entwistle and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Goeffrey Onyema, were not in attendance.
The joint committee had expected that the minister would have appeared on Wednesday along with the outgoing US envoy, but members of the committees were later informed that it would not be possible again since the minister was expected to brief the Federal Executive Council, FEC, on outcome of the 29th Ordinary Session of African Union he attended in Kigali, Rwanda.
Nigerian Pilot recalls that on Thursday last week, the hearing was stalled due to the absence of Entwistle and Onyema.
In the absence of the other invited stakeholders, the three accused made their separate submissions.
In his submission, Hon Mohammed Garba Gololo told the joint committee that sometime in 2015, he got the invitation from the US embassy to attend the programme.
Gololo said when they arrived US, he was lodged at the Marriot Hotel in Cleveland, stressing that throughout his stay in the hotel, he never grabbed any housekeeper as was alleged.
He argued that if he actually grabbed anybody, what stopped the person from raising an alarm.
“There was never a time I was in my hotel room and a maid entered. No housekeeper visited my room throughout my stay in the US; I was not accused of any infraction until after three months.
“I never ordered for food while in the hotel. We normally go out to shop and put the food items in the fridge,” Gololo stated.
While denying the accusation, he threatened to take legal action if Entwistle fails to retract the allegation and tender an apology.
On his part, Hon. Mark Gbillah insisted that the accusation from the outgoing US envoy was premeditated.
He maintained that they cannot be accused based on a group photograph they took there and challenged Entwistle to produce video evidence to back up his allegation.
Gbillah informed the committee that he travelled on the trip with his wife and daughter and insisted that while in the hotel, he never spoke to a car park attendant.
Samuel Ikon said he had been in the US over 40 times without any bad record.
He hinted that during the period they were in US, he had health challenge that would not have allowed him indulge in such practice.
Ikon said his lawyer in the US had written to the hotel management of his intention to sue if it fails to produce evidence of the allegation.
In his remarks, the Executive-Director, African Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor, urged the committee to condemned in strong terms the inability of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to appear before the joint committee on two occasions.