One of the three House of Representatives members accused of sexual misconduct in the United States was yesterday close to tears as he defended his integrity before the panel probing the allegations made by U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria James Entwistle.
Rep. Mohammed Gololo (APC-Bauchi) was alleged to have sexually assaulted a housekeeper in his hotel room. His colleagues, Mark Gbillah (APC-Benue) and Samuel Ikon (PDP-Akwa Ibom) were accused of soliciting for prostitutes while attending a leadership programme in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
During the investigative hearing on the allegations, by the joint Committees on Ethics and Privileges and Foreign Affairs in Abuja yesterday, they demanded video evidence from the ambassador who leveled the allegations in a letter to Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
Gbillah, whose eyes were misty while testifying, denied the allegation, saying the reliance on evidence from employees of the hotel and confirmation of identities of the lawmakers in a group photograph was faulty.
According to him, the action did not comply with global norms that demanded fair hearing on such matter.
“We were not contacted by the US embassy to hear from us about what transpired at the hotel.
“This is the only evidence they admitted that they have contrary to all fallacious statements in the media about them having video evidence.
“I can then dare the U.S. government today to produce the video evidence about something that does not exist.
“Some of us will not relent in this matter,’’ Gbillah said.
He added that the accused lawmakers suspended legal process on the matter in deference to the ongoing investigation.
“But, when you have concluded we are taking it up at whatever U.S. department wants because it is my reputation and career and I will not take this lying low,’’ he said.
Gololo, who was accused of grabbing a house keeper at the Marriot Hotel in Cleveland, described the allegation as spurious.
He demanded that the allegation should be retracted and apologies tendered by the US government if video evidence was not produced.
According to him, I never grabbed any body and all through my stay in the hotel, I did not come in contact with any house keeper.
“So, I insist that the video evidence against me be produced not only to clear my name but to seek redress for the damages done to my reputation.
“I am ready to go back to Cleveland at my expense to establish my innocence without prejudice to my right,’’ Gololo said.
Ikom said the U.S. Ambassador’s letter that suggested that all parties were interrogated before arriving at a conclusion was misleading.
He said:” My views on this issue have not been sought; I have not been confronted with facts at their disposal.
Chairman, House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Rep. Nicholas Ossai, adopted the submissions of the lawmakers and adjourned the hearing till today.
Ossai said the panel will take submissions from Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama, who was absent at the investigative hearing because of his engagement at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.