Friday, 22 July 2016

No evidence of sexual misconduct against Rep members, says Onyema

Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyema has said that there was no evidence to substantiate allegation of sexual misconduct by three members of the House of Representatives in the United States.

Outgoing United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, had in a correspondence to Speaker Yakubu Dogara, alleged that the three lawmakers: Mohammed Gololo, Samuel Ikon and Mark Gbillah, committed offences ranging from soliciting sex through hotel car park attendants and assaulting a hotel housekeeper in an attempt to rape her during the International Visitor Leadership Programme in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. held between April 7 and April 13.


The minister, who appeared before the Mr. Nicholas Ossai-led joint House Committees on Ethics, Privileges and Foreign Affairs yesterday, said his position, was based on the information made available to him by Ambassador Entwistle.

Onyema argued that his position was reinforced by the fact that efforts by the Nigerian government to get testimonies from the accusers-an unidentified housekeeper and car park attendants in the Renaissance Marriot Resident Inn in downtown Cleveland to substantiate their claims-met a brick wall as they refused to respond.

Acknowledging that the publication of the allegations had smeared the image of the lawmakers, Onyeama agreed that Entwistle breached protocol by first sending correspondence to Speaker Yakubu Dogara on the issue without first notifying the foreign ministry.

The minister however, defended the decision by the US authorities to withdraw the entry permit of the three lawmakers, saying the American Embassy in Nigeria could exercise such powers at any time it deems fit.

According to Onyema, the allegations are just allegations on one hand, which the ambassador brought to the attention of the Speaker and of course it the evidence I felt was not strong enough.

“I had assumed there would be recording, pictures and DNAs and what have you but I was surprised that the alleged complainants refused to testify when approached by our own government,” he said.

The minister maintained, that the confirmation of this allegation I think is a bit ambiguous. It can only be confirmed to be true if a court of some sort has all the evidence and is in a position to have access to the facts. At this stage it is some people’s words against some other people.


Culled from Guardian

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