Sex scandal: US ambassador boycotts House of Reps panel

Speaker, Nigeria House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara

The outgoing US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwhistle, on Thursday refused to appear before a House of Representatives panel investigating his allegation that three Nigerian lawmakers were involved in sexual misconduct during a visit to the US.

Chairman, House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Nicholas Ossai, on Monday announced that lawmakers would meet Entwistle and Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey, over the sexual misconduct allegation against Mohammed Gololo, Samuel Ikon and Mark Gbillah.

Also invited were Chairman, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Entwistle had in a petition to Speaker Yakubu Dogara accused the three legislators of sexual assault and soliciting for prostitutes during an International Visitor Leadership Programme in Cleveland, Ohio, between April 7 and April 13.

“The standard in the US is that an accused is assumed innocent until proven guilty and that is the same standard in Nigeria. Anyone who has evidence can now see the committee,” Ossai said.

Dogara had last month expressed regrets over the allegation against the three lawmakers whom Entwistle said were involved in behaviour that “left a very negative impression of Nigeria”.

The Speaker was quoted by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, as urging Nigerians to refrain from passing judgment and wait for the outcome of investigation by the parliament.

“Judgment can only be passed when an allegation is proven,” he had said.

Dogara also vowed that the house would investigate the allegation, saying that, “together with the US Embassy in Nigeria, we will get to the bottom of this matter”.

He had pointed out that apart from the US Ambassador’s letter, no evidence had been forwarded to his office, and that there could be no conviction without a trial.

He also indicated that the lawmakers had said that they were prepared to defend themselves at their own cost.

Chairman, House Committee on Media and Publicity, Abdurrazak Namdaz,  told the BBC on Thursday that the ambassador did not give any reason for failing to appear before the panel of lawmakers.

The panel, headed by Ossai, has adjourned hearing till July 20.