Three Nigerian lawmakers have been accused by the United States of sexual misbehaviour while in that country.
The United States ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, said one member of the House of Representatives attempted raping a hotel attendant, and two others solicited the services of prostitutes through car park attendants during their visit to Cleveland, United States, for the International Visitor Leadership Program.
The lawmakers deny the allegations and have demanded video evidence and an apology. That hasn’t stopped the American authorities from withdrawing their visas.
But who exactly are the three lawmakers? Here is what we know about them.
A member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Gololo represents Gamawa Federal Constituency of Bauchi State in the House of Representatives, where he is a first-termer.
Born in 1975, Mr. Gololo attended Barewa College, Zaria until 1994. He obtained Bachelor’s Degree and Masters of Business Administration from the Lagos State University, Lagos, in 2002 and 2005 respectively.
Before his election to the House, he worked in the operations section of the National Maritime Authority. In 2015, he raised a motion for the probe of alleged N2.7 billion severance package for National Electricity Regulation Commission board members, arguing that it was not authorized by the National Assembly in the 2015 Appropriations Act.
According to Mr. Entwistle, Mr. Gololo grabbed a hotel chambermaid and solicited sex. But he denied the allegation in a letter June 13 letter to the American Embassy in Nigeria.
“These are totally false, unfounded and baseless allegations against me,” the lawmaker wrote. “I categorically deny that any such incident happened. I never grabbed any housekeeper or solicited sex.” He demanded “video or any such evidence of my alleged misbehaviour”.
Mr. Ikon is a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom State. He is 43.
Mr. Ikon graduated from Federal Government College, Ikot Ekpene, in 1995; and later, from the University of Calabar. He holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Uyo.
He is a former speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly (2011-2015) and was once the head of Nigeria’s Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures. He is currently a member of House Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Relations.
He is accused of asking car park attendants to help arrange services of prostitutes. “I wish to state unequivocally that this is false and definitely not me. This to me is a case of mistaken identity and I have already instituted measures both legally and diplomatically to clear my name and the institution I represent,” Mr. Ikon said, in refuting the allegation. “I call for patience and God’s abiding wisdom at this time.”
Mr. Gbillah, 44, represents Gwer East/Gwer West Federal Constituency of Benue State in the House, and is a member of ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. In 1987, he left St. Gabriel School of Makurdi where he received secondary education.
He graduated from University of Jos where he studied Building Technology, and later had graduate studies at the University of Liverpool, UK. He worked at Airtel Nigeria Ltd. as project specialist before serving as chief executive of Cynosure Global Ltd., specializing in construction and real estate.
A member of house committee on petroleum resources (downstream), Mr. Gbillah says one of his core legislative interests is developing a constitutional means of checking herdsmen, understandably so, given the experience of his Benue kinsmen at the hands of rampaging pastoralists.
Alongside Mr. Ikon, he was accused of encouraging prostitution by soliciting the services of sex workers through car park attendants.
But he says the allegation is an affront on the National Assembly, describing it as “calculated attempt to rubbish” the Nigeria’s lawmaking institution.
In a letter to the US Embassy, Mr. Gbillah threatened legal action against the country’s Department of State, Marriot Hotel Brand, the Cleveland Council of World Affairs and the US State Embassy, “requesting for damages, comprehensive investigation of these allegations to exonerate myself and a formal globally publicised apology”.
The alleged shameful conduct of Nigeria’s lawmakers, Mr. Entwistle said in his petition, cast “a shadow on Nigeria’s National Assembly, the International Visitor Leadership Programme, 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,” he said.