Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara yesterday said the Committees on Ethics and Privileges and Foreign Affairs had been directed to investigate the alleged sexual misconduct by some lawmakers, as he assured that they would implement the report to the fullest.
Dogara hinted that the report would be made public and urged anybody who had proof to approach the committees.
He pointed out that the allegation was a serious one, stressing that it was not about the three lawmakers alone, but the image of the House and Nigeria at large.
“This is a serious matter and it is not about the three lawmakers alone or the House as an institution.
“I have directed the Committees on Ethics and Privileges and Foreign Affairs to investigate the matter before we take action.
“Anybody who has any proof or evidence can direct them to the commuttee,” Dogara said.
Coming under Order 6, Rule 20 and 22, Hon Mark Gbillah said the media had been awash with the news of the sex scandal involving him and two other lawmakers.
Gbillah maintained that no such thing happened, adding that he loved his wife and had not cheated on her.
He, therefore, challenged the US ambassador, Mr. James Entwistle, to come up with evidence or proof of the allegation.
While saying that none of them was interrogated in US and Nigeria before arriving at the conclusion, Gbillah urged that the public hearing be conducted openly.
On her contribution, Hon Nnenna Ukeje was of the opinion that the matter should be dealt with utmost responsiveness.
She called on Nigerians to wait for the outcome of the report and not to jump into conclusion.
Between April 7 and 13, 10 members of the House of Representatives travelled to Ohio, United States of America, where they were invited by the US government to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Programme on good governance taking place in Cleveland, Ohio.
The lawmakers included Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo (APC- Bauchi); Hon. Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom); Hon. Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue), and Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi (PDP- Nasarawa).
Others are Hon Danburam Abubakar Nuhu (APC, Kano); Hon. Nkole Uko Ndukwe (PDP, Abia); Hon. Rita Orji (PDP, Lagos), and Hon. Ayo Huliyat Omidiran (APC, Osun).
Report had it that employees of the Cleveland hotel where the lawmakers lodged officially informed the US Department of State and the Cleveland Council on World Affairs that Mohammed Garba Gololo allegedly grabbed a housekeeper in his hotel room and solicited for sex while Mark Terseer Gbillah and Samuel Ikon allegedly requested hotel parking attendants to assist them solicit for prostitutes.
Recently, the United States ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle petitioned Hon. Dogara, accusing the three lawmakers of improper conduct, attempted rape and soliciting for prostitutes while on official trip to the US.
In a letter dated June 9, 2016, the ambassador alleged that three members of the House – Gololo, Ikon and Gbillah had on a recent visit to the United States for the International Visitor Leadership Programme brought disrepute to the parliament by soliciting for sex from prostitutes and grabbing hotel housekeeper in a bid to rape.
According to Entwistle, “The US 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 Programme 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. The affected lawmakers did not show remorse when the issue was brought to them.
“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.”
As expected, the affected lawmakers had since denied all the allegations and threatened to sue the ambassador and the US government for “character defamation and a calculated attempt to ridicule the National Assembly.”
Gbillah had officially written to Entwistle accusing the US of not giving the three members fair hearing.
He expressed surprise in his letter that within hours of bringing the matter to the attention of the House, the US government had gone ahead to cancel the visas of the lawmakers.
He, therefore, threatened to immediately institute legal actions against the US government, the ambassador and the Marriot Hotel Brand, among others for damages.
“Without conclusive evidence of any sort or contact with any of the accused individuals, the US State Department and US Embassy in Nigeria have less than six days after your letter to the speaker, gone ahead to revoke the US visas of the accused individuals based on hearsay from the employees of the hotel in Cleveland,” Gbillah stated.

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