Thursday, 16 June 2016

US ambassador accuses 3 House of rep members of attempted rape and asking for sex from prostitutes

A section of the House of Representatives during plenary

Some members of Nigeria’s House of Representatives have allegedly brought disrepute to the country as they are accused of attempted rape and soliciting for sex from prostitutes while on a trip to the United States. 

The legislators, according to New Telegraph, include Mohammed Garba Gololo (APC, Bauchi), Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom) and Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue). 

James Entwistle, ambassador to the United States, petitioned Speaker Yakubu Dogara, revealing that while the representatives were in the US for the International Visitor Leadership programme, some of them attempted grabbing a hotel housekeeper in a bid to rape her while others solicited for sex from prostitutes. But the report said the affected lawmakers have denied all the allegations and threatened to sue the ambassador and the US government for allegedly defaming their character. 

They also described the ambassador’s petition dated June 9, 2016 as a calculated attempt to ridicule the Nigerian legislature. 

The three representatives were among 10 lawmakers invited by the US government for the programme held between April 7 and 13, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. READ ALSO: Dogara holds special Ramadan prayer session for the country Those invited include Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi (PDP Nasarawa state), Danburam Abubakar Nuhu (APC-Kano state), Nkole Uko Ndukwe (PDP-Abia state), Rita Orji (PDP Lagos state), Ayo Huliyat Omidiran (APC-Osun). 

The letter read: “It is with regret that I must bring to your attention the following situation. “Ten members of the Nigerian National Assembly recently travelled to Cleveland, Ohio as participants in the International Visitor Leadership programme on good governance. We received troubling allegations regarding the behaviour of three members of the delegation to the U.S. Government’s flagship professional exchange programme. 

“The US department of state and the Cleveland council on world affairs received reports from employees of the Cleveland hotel where the representatives stayed, alleging the representatives engaged in the following behaviour: “Mohammed Garba Gololo allegedly grabbed a housekeeper in his hotel room and solicited her for sex. “While the housekeeper reported this to her management, this incident could have involved local law enforcement and resulted in legal consequences for Representative Gololo. “Mark Terseer Gbillah and Samuel Ikon allegedly requested hotel parking attendants assist them to solicit prostitutes. “The US mission took pains to confirm these allegations and the identities of the individuals with the employees of the hotel in Cleveland. 

“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.” “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.” In reaction, Gbillah said the letter was intended to cause a rift between him and his wives, families and constituents. 

The representative who said he attended the programme with his wife and baby and could not, in any way, solicit for sex from a prostitute, added: “This is an affront on the National Assembly and Nigeria, it appears they have ulterior motives. We are not going to take this lightly; we will take legal actions against the US government. It is a dent on our image.” “I went on the trip with my wife and baby and insisted that she stayed with me, but they told me the accommodation was meant for only participants. “So, at Cleveland Renaissance where we were, opposite the Quicken Loan Arena, the Cleveland Cavalier Basketball team played a match and many people came to lodge at the same hotel, and they claimed that we spoke with car park attendants. “We didn’t go with cars, so how could we have spoken with attendants?”

He said at an event a month later, he met the ambassador. “I saw the ambassador (Entwistle) and went to greet him and he told me how a few of us tarnished the image of the House. I advised him to make it formal so that we can know who was involved and what actually happened. 

“It was after this encounter that they called us to their premises and said they were identified by their accusers in a group picture. This is curious. No video footage. They didn’t accost us while we were in US. “We suspect this is a calculated attempt to rubbish the National Assembly. “Is this how they would have investigated their congressmen? Do they know that there were other black people who came to watch the match? How could they have identified us in a picture without our knowledge? “We, the concerned members, have written to the speaker indicating the facts and demanding footage of our stay in the hotel. We also want them to provide access to our accusers to identify us. “But most importantly, we would be demanding compensation from the US government for defamation of character.” 

In a letter dated June 13, Gololo, who was accused of grabbing a housekeeper, said: “These are totally false, unfounded and baseless allegations against me. I categorically deny any such incident happened, I never grabbed any housekeeper nor did I solicit for sex. “I also take this issue very seriously not only because I am a honourable member representing a hallowed institution, but because of my integrity as a husband and father. “How would my family and in-laws react to these wild and grave allegations? 

“I demand an apology and retraction of these allegations or I shall not hesitate to engage the services of lawyers and not only to clear my name, but to seek redress for the damages done to my reputation. I insist that evidence of the allegations against me be produced. “It is, therefore, in the interest of both countries to investigate this matter thoroughly to get to the root of it and I am ready to go back to Cleveland at my expense to establish my innocence without prejudice to my rights, press charges against libelous allegations.” 

The allegation comes same day Abdulsamad Dasuki, the chairman of the House of Representatives committee on navy, advised the government of Muhammadu Buhari to consider consider the presentation of a Maritime Security Supplementary Bill for procurement the equipment.