The house of representatives has commenced investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against three of its members by the United States (US).
Abdulrazak Namdas, spokesman of the house, disclosed in Abuja on Thursday.
“We are in receipt of a letter from the US ambassador, alleging misconduct by some members of the national assembly, who attended a training programme in the United States of America,” he said.
“The leadership of the house has commenced its own part of the investigation. When it is concluded, we will brief Nigerians further on this issue.”
The three members of the house — Samuel Ikon (PDP Akwa Ibom), Mohammed Gololo (APC Bauchi) and Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) — allegedly sought the services of sex workers while they were attending a programme in the US.
The letter from James Entwistle, American ambassador to Nigeria, to the house, obtained by New Telegraph, reads: “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 U.S. 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 U.S. Mission took pains to confirm these allegations and the identities of the individuals with the employees of the hotel in Cleveland.
“The conduct described above left a very negative impression of Nigeria, casting a shadow on Nigeria’s national assembly, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and to the American hosts’ impression of Nigeria as a whole. 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.
“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.”