Sex scandal: Reps may seek diplomatic solution
The House of Representatives is seeking an audience with the United States Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle, after the envoy shunned Thursday’s investigative public hearing by the House on the alleged sexual misconduct by three of its members during a recent visit to the US.
The decision to meet Entwistle appears to be a reversal of the House’s insistence on Thursday that the ambassador must attend the hearing now rescheduled for July 20.
The envoy shunned the Thursday hearing, citing diplomatic immunity.
The investigation was triggered by a June 9, 2016 petition by Entwistle to Speaker Yakubu Dogara in which he accused Mohammed Garba Gololo (Bauchi), Samuel Ikon (Akwa Ibom) and Mark Gbillah (Benue) of attempted rape and soliciting prostitutes while on an official visit to his country in April.
Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, told reporters yesterday that the House will “go to the Ambassador” if necessary in a bid to get to the root of the allegations.
It was gathered that the House had just come to the realisation that the ambassador could not be summoned by the House on account of his immunity.
The Chairperson of the House Committee on Foreign Relations, Elendu- Ukeje, drew attention to the Vienna Convention which precludes an Ambassador from being summoned by his host country’s legislature.
He proposed that the best option was to allow the Minister of Foreign Affairs to provide an enabling platform for an interaction between the committee and Entwistle.
Namdas, who is a member of the joint committee investigating the sexual misconduct allegations, said that although the Ambassador breached the channel of communication by writing to the Speaker directly, the House “will get across to the Ambassador,” upon the return of Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama from an official visit to Rwanda.
He said: “We cannot subject him to compulsorily appearance before this committee. It depends on where you want to go.
“It’s an investigation. The most important thing is that his side will also be heard.”
Namdas allayed fears that the investigation would be compromised because two of the accused persons—Gbillah and Ikon—are members of the Foreign Affairs committee.
His words:”When this thing took place, there was no selection of which committee you belong to for us to say it was done with intention.
“The essence of public hearing is to be able to clear some of these doubts.”