United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, is to present video evidence against the three members of the House of Representatives on Thursday when Ossai Ossai Committee assigned to probe the alleged sex misconduct involving the trio begins open public hearing.
The three accused members include Mohammed Garba Gololo (APC, Bauchi); Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom) and Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue).
Entwistle had in a petition to Dogara, alleged that the actions of the three lawmakers at the International Visitor Leadership Programme in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, from April 7 to 13, 2016, brought disrepute to the parliament. The Ambassador had alleged that the Reps solicited for sex from prostitutes and grabbing hotel housekeeper in a bid to rape.
The committee had been unable to sit because some of the members had gone pilgrimage to Mecca during the Ramadan. The committee decided not to extend the invitation to the hotel management as the ambassador, who released the information through a letter to the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, is expected to have all the documentary evidence against the three accused members.
Apart from the US Ambassador that is expected at the hearing, the committee also extended invitation to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, the three accused lawmakers as well as the other seven members that attended the leadership programme.
Speaking in a telephone conversation with Vanguard, Chairman of the committee, Ossai, said the committee decided not to invite the management of the hotel where the alleged sex misconduct took place because it believed the Ambassador would come with all the necessary video evidence on the act.
He added: “When I am given a job, I do it diligently. I don’t compromise anything. My reputation and the reputation of the House is at stake.”
Recall that the Speaker, Dogara, while inaugurating the Ossai-led Ethics Committee alongside the Foreign Affairs after the House resolution at plenary on Tuesday, June 21, mandated it to investigate the culpability of the three members involved in the alleged sex misconduct.
He described the assignment as a very serious one, since many people had already made their conclusion that the three accused lawmakers were culpable. He, however, stated that “the standard in the US is that an accused is assumed innocent until proven guilty and that is the same standard in Nigeria. Any one who has evidence can now see the committee.”
Let the US Ambassador tender the video evidence—Nkem-Abonta, Mrakpor Also commenting, the member representing Ukwa Federal Constituency of Abia State, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta asked the Ambassador to tender any video evidence he had before the committee.
He said: “Let him bring the video tape so that the whole world will see it. I think that if that is true, that he had the video evidence, our legislators did not behave well.”
Also commenting, Onyemaechi Joan Mrakpor, PDP, Delta, said she would not like to preempt the committee or any evidence the Ambassador claims he has until everything was made public. She said:
“That is his claim, he should provide the evidence. The people (the three lawmakers) are alive to present their own explanations or evidence.”