United State embassy’’ says
visas of the accused lawmakers stands revoked

The Nigeria House of
Representatives said it has commenced investigations into allegations of sexual
misconduct against three of its members by the United States embassy, even as
the embassy has already revoked the US visas of the accused lawmakers.

The US ambassador to Nigeria,
Mr. James Entwistle,  letter written  to Speaker 
accused three  of  its members 
of attempting   to rape some of the
house keepers  where they lodged , while
on a recent trip to Cleveland, Ohio for the International Visitors Leadership
Programme.

The accused lawmakers are Hon.
Mohammed Garba Gololo (Bauchi APC), Hon. Samuel Ikom (Akwa Ibom PDP) and Hon.
Mark Gbillah (Benue APC) who were on the trip with seven other House members.

Gololo allegedly grabbed a
housekeeper cleaning his hotel room and solicited her for sex, while Gbillah
and Ikom allegedly asked hotel parking attendants to help them find
prostitutes.

 According to News Agency of Nigeria, it was
reported that Spokesperson of the House, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, acknowledged
receipt of the letter from the ambassador to the speaker.

He said also, that “as a
responsible parliament” the House has commenced investigations into the
allegations.

“We are doing our
investigation; they remain allegations until proven otherwise. We have our laws
and when investigations are conducted, we will brief you further,” he said.

 Speaking further, Hon Namdas said “none of
them is before any court of law, it is a letter that alleged the development,”
he said.

Urban express however gathered
that the development has thoroughly embarrassed the House leadership which
nominated the participants for the US government-sponsored programme.

“This is sad news, even if
nothing comes out of the allegations, this may deprive the House members of
crucial exposure,” a lawmaker lamented.

Gbillah has however indicated
his intention to institute legal action to clear his name and save his political
career.

A copy of his response to the
US Ambassador, which he made available to news agency of Nigeria, stated that
he would institute legal action in the United States against the Marriot Hotel
brand, the Cleveland Council of World Affairs and the US State Department
requesting damages, a comprehensive investigation of the allegations to
exonerate myself, and a formal globally publicized apology.

The letter Reads in part: “It
has come to my attention that via correspondence from your good self to His Excellency,
Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (a
copy of which I also received), you made very serious allegations against me
and other members of the House of Representatives group that visited the United
States in April 2016 as part of the International Visitors Leadership Programme
(IVLP).

“In your letter you claimed
that I was identified as one of the members of the aforementioned group who
asked for the assistance of a hotel parking attendant to solicit for prostitutes
at the Residence In Downtown Cleveland Ohio.

“I am extremely shocked, upset,
irked and embarrassed by your letter and want to categorically state that these
allegations are completely false, unfounded, malicious and a calculated attempt
to malign and cast aspersion on my reputation and character as a Nigerian
citizen and Honorable Member of the House of Representatives and to bring
disrepute to the hallowed institution of the National Assembly and the entire
nation of Nigeria.

“Considering the enormity of
these allegations it is instructive to note the following:

1)   The US State Department and the US Embassy
in Nigeria appear to have concluded on the accuracy of these allegations based
on the testimony of the employees of the hotel without recourse to a response
from the accused individuals or a proper forensic investigation. Paragraph 5 of
your letter clearly states that ‘The US Mission took the pains to confirm these
allegations and the identities of the individuals with the employees of the
hotel in Cleveland’. The Embassy claims the accused individuals were identified
by the hotel employees from a photograph of the group. Is this the manner in
which such allegations against any US citizen (not to mention Members of the US
Congress) are investigated and prosecuted in the United States or does the US
State Department and Embassy have so much disdain towards Nigeria and her
citizens that they did not bother to carry out a proper investigation? For a
country that prides itself as the bastion of Democracy, justice, the rule of
law, fair hearing and human rights it is quite alarming that allegations of
this magnitude can be made and confirmed without allowing the accused
individuals to respond.

2)   Without conclusive evidence of any sort or
contact with any of the accused individuals the US State Department and US Embassy
in Nigeria have less than six days after your letter to the Speaker gone ahead
to revoke the US visas of accused individuals based on hearsay from the
employees of the hotel in Cleveland. Affected individuals received
correspondence from the US Embassy on Wednesday 15th June 2016 indicating the
denial of their US visas and requesting that they bring their international
passports with current US visas to the Embassy.

3)   The accused individuals were not accosted
with these allegations while in the US so they could immediately defend
themselves, the hotel employees conveniently refrained from making these
allegations while the members of the group were in the United States and
curiously decided to do so after our departure. What is the reason behind their
not reporting these incidents immediately they occurred and why are we only
being informed about these allegations two months after our return from the US?

4)   None of the members of the group was driving
a vehicle while at the hotel and would therefore have had no cause to interact
with the car park attendants as the Residence Inn car park is not in front of
the hotel but somewhere behind and some distance away from the hotel. You will
have to go out of your way to go to the car park so video footage should
clearly indicate whether or not any member of the group interacted with a hotel
car park attendant.

5)   Other groups comprising African Americans
and other ‘people of color’ were also occupying the Residence Inn while this
group of House of Representatives members was visiting Cleveland because of the
scheduled basketball game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks
at the Quicken Loans Arena which is just across the road from the hotel. What
is the certainty of the ability of the probably Caucasian hotel car park
attendants to accurately identify the specific members of any of the groups at
the hotel as being responsible for the purported infractions?

6)   The US border agency has it on record that I
came into the US with my wife and baby on this trip and although the organizers
did not allow them to stay with me in the hotel I was always communicating with
my wife on face time whenever I returned to the hotel. I stayed indoors on the
days we had a break from our usually hectic schedule and only had cause to go
to the grocery store to pick up items for my room. I wonder when it was I found
the time to solicit for prostitutes from a hotel parking attendant and how I
intended to bring a prostitute to my room when I had a regular face time
schedule with my wife which we never concluded until I was ready to turn in.
This can very easily be verified from my log in activity on the hotels Wi-Fi
service.

7)   I have visited the US and several countries
in the world countless times over the last several years and have stayed at
countless hotels all over the world and want to dare the US government to find
any instance where I have previously solicited for prostitutes from a hotel
employee even when I was not a married man. I am a Hilton Honors Diamond Member
with over 1,500,000 reward points, an Intercontinental Ambassador Platinum
Elite Member, a Ritz Carlton Rewards Silver member, a Marriott Rewards Member,
a Starwood Preferred Guest Member and a Fairmont Presidents Club Member.

I am a member of two of the
rewards programs of the parent hotel brand of the Residence Inn (Marriott
Rewards and Ritz Carlton Rewards) and the record of my previous lodgings at all
the hotel brands can be obtained to ascertain whether or not I have ever solicited
for prostitutes from any hotel employee. Although it is very easy to obtain the
previous travel history and track record of accused members, it is obvious the
US State Department and the US Embassy have presumed our guilt without proper
investigation because of the disdain and disrespect they have towards the
average Nigerian citizen even when such citizens are Members of the Nigerian
House of Representatives, a treatment they will never mete out to an ordinary
American citizen who is not even a member of the US Congress.

8)   It is noteworthy that a member of our group
made a formal complaint to the organizers of the programme about his being
defrauded to the tune of about $100 at the Renaissance Hotel Dupont Circle
Washington DC but neither the US State Department nor the US Embassy in Nigeria
has deemed it fit to take any action or initiate any investigation in this
regard. Members of the group also expressed their dissatisfaction, displeasure
and disappointment with the organisers of the programme over their inability to
organise a single meeting with any member of the US congress and constraining
members to meet with only one State Representative and several County
Representatives and officials contrary to the initial objectives of the
programme. Perhaps there are other underlying reasons behind the lackluster
attitude of the US State Department and the US Embassy towards ensuring proper
investigation of these allegations.

“Your Excellency, this
unfortunate and malicious situation has further been exacerbated by the fact
that your Embassy by omission or commission has allowed your correspondence to
the Speaker to fall into the hands of the print media in Lagos without fair
hearing or upholding the rights of the concerned individuals; an employee of one
of the national dailies intimated me about this and their desire to publish the
story.

“This story was indeed
published in the New Telegraph of Thursday, 16th June, 2016 alleging that
related Members of the House of Representatives were involved in a sex scandal.

“You can imagine the
incalculable damage to my reputation and image with the publication of these
spurious allegations especially when I unequivocally know that I am completely
innocent.

“It is also unfortunate that at
a meeting with your Deputy Chief of Mission in Abuja the attempt by members of
the group to express their exception to and displeasure with these allegations,
the lack of proper investigation and the tainting of the image of the entire
group was considered to be a very negative reaction by your Chief of Mission
and your good self.

“I suppose the US Embassy
expected renowned personalities in Nigeria like Members of the House of
Representatives to accept complicity in such malicious and spurious allegations
without proper investigation or evidence or any opportunity to defend
themselves.

“Considering the psychological
trauma, irredeemable defamation of my character and reputation before my
spouse, children, family, colleagues, leadership, constituents and the general
Nigerian and global public and the incalculable damage to my political career,
I intend to take the following actions:

1)   Institute legal action in the United States
against the Marriot Hotel Brand, the Cleveland Council of World Affairs and the
US State Department requesting for damages, comprehensive investigation of
these allegations to exonerate myself and a formal globally publicized apology.

2)   Institute legal action in Nigeria against
the US Embassy in Nigeria also requesting for damages, comprehensive investigation
of these allegations and a formal globally publicized apology.

3)   Demand that the US Embassy and the US State
Department (regardless of your revocation of my US visa) allow me to travel to
Cleveland even at my own expense to confront my accuser and confirm my
innocence. I otherwise have no desire to travel to a country that appears to
pay only lip service to the ideals they claim to uphold.

4)   Demand for the full video/cctv footage
covering the period of our entire stay at the hotel; this should clearly show
the movements and activities of every member of the group throughout the hotel.

“It is unfortunate that I have
to write to your good self under these circumstances but I believe you will use
your good office to redress this very grave injustice and redeem the image of
your country.”

Another House member, who was
accused of asking the hotel parting attendant to find him a prostitute, Ikom,
also refuted the allegation, adding that he would take steps to clear his name.

 In a statement yesterday, he said: “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. I call for
patience and God’s abiding wisdom at this time.”

Entwistle’s strongly worded
letter to Dogara, read in part: “The US 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 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.

“While the majority of Nigerian
visitors to the United States do behave appropriately, even a few Nigerians
demonstrating poor judgment 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.

“In addition, most of the
members of this group reacted very negatively to my deputy when she brought
this matter to their attention, further calling into question their judgment
and commitment to the goals of the International Visitor Leadership Programme.

“This leads us to question
whether to include National Assembly members for other similar programmes 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.”

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