Head of service suspends perm sec Ibrahim Lamuwa accused of sexual harassment

Ambassador Ibrahim Lamuwa accused of sexual harassment

Head of civil service of the federation Folashade Yemi-Esan has suspended the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Ibrahim Lamuwa over sexual harassment allegation.

Yemi-Esan said the suspension would be pending the outcome of a probe into the allegation against him.

A government official, who spoke to PUNCH on Wednesday on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter, confirmed the development.

“The permanent secretary has been suspended pending the outcome of the probe by the committee set up,” the source said.

Simisola Ajayi, an aide to the minister of foreign affairs Yusuf Tuggar, had written a petition to the minister through her lawyer Femi Falana (SAN), alleging Lamuwa sexually harassed her severally.

Responding to the allegation, Lamuwa discredited the claims in a statement by his lawyers.

“We wish to state categorically that our client has never made any sexual advances towards Mrs. Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi, who he is aware is a married woman, neither has he ever made suggestive comments or innuendos that requested any form of untoward relationship between himself and her.

“Our client distinctly recalls the events that took place at the ministry’s retreat on October 7th 2023 where Mrs Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi claims that he invited her to his room. Our client states categorically that, he never made such an invitation and that his only communication with Mrs Fajemirokun-Ajayi, which was an overt one, was where he checked on her, like he did to all participants on whether they had been well-lodged in their hotels.

“He further recalls that the instance where he spoke of her as a nursing mother, during the same retreat was in a colloquial conversation they were having with other participants, where one participant even responded jokingly that when a woman says ‘her baby’ it could mean either her husband or one of her children, of which he innocuously joked asking ‘how big is the baby?’ Our client maintains that those conversations were made jokingly and sees their misinterpretation as malicious and with ill-intent.

“Our client also maintains that it is an absurdity for Mrs Fajemirokun-Ajayi to claim that he invited her to Hong Kong, given that the conversation they were both having was on how Honk Kong had digitised its work processes as far back as 1999. Our client wonders how such a conversation became interpreted as an invitation for her to travel alongside himself knowing fully well that she is an aide to the minister. How can she possibly leave the minister to follow the permanent secretary, on a vacation? Would that not be the height of delusion for the one requesting, as well as the one heeding to the request?

“It is clear that the minister’s aide has misinterpreted ordinary conversations, made openly and in the presence of other participants, for untoward intentions,” the statement said.