Mr. James Entwistle, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, has accused some members of the House of Representatives of improper conduct. In a petition he wrote to Hon. Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker, House of Representatives, he alleged that three members of the house – Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo (Bauchi, APC), Hon. Mark Gbillah (Benue, APC) and Hon. Samuel Ikon (Akwa Ibom, PDP) requested for prostitutes and attempted to rape a hotel housekeeper.
Between April 7 and 13, 2016, ten Nigerian lawmakers were invited by the US government for the International Visitor Leadership Program, which took place in Ohio. The US claimed that they received misconduct reports from the employees of the Cleveland hotel, where the lawmakers were lodged. “Mohammed Garba allegedly grabbed a housekeeper in his hotel room and solicited sex from her. Two others [Mark Gbillah and Samuel Ikon], allegedly requested hotel parking attendants assist them to solicit prostitutes,” Entwistle said.
The Ambassador claimed that “the U.S. Mission took pains to confirm these allegations and the identities of the individuals with the employees of the hotel in Cleveland,” and this incidence may hamper the acceptance of Nigerians for such programmes in the future. While Entwistle has expressed his displeasure with the negative reaction of the lawmakers, the accused reps have denied the allegations.
Mark Gbillah has responded to the Ambassador’s letter claiming that the allegation is a calculated attempt to tarnish their images. “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,” Gbillah said. Gbillah noted that the incidence was brought to their notice about a month after their trip, when he met Entwistle at a dinner.
He further explained that there was a basketball match going on around the hotel area, and as such, many of the spectators were lodged at the same hotel; some of whom were Black. He also questioned the basis of the accusation. “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 the 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?”
Gololo also corroborated Gbillah’s claim by stating that the hotel house keeper may have pointed to the wrong person, since they were all Black. Who then should be believed? Is this another example of racism in America or could it be that the Nigerian lawmakers are guilty and only hiding behind their racial identity?