The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, has accused members of the Nigerian House of Representatives of improper conduct while on an official trip to the U.S. Specifically, the ambassador accused these members of attempted rape and solicitation of prostitutes.
Mr. Entwistle made this allegation in a letter dated June 9, 2016 addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
The ambassador stated that the offending representatives were Mohammed Garba Gololo (APC – Bauchi), Samuel Ikon (PDP – Akwa Ibom), and Mark Gbillah (APC – Benue). The three members allegedly attempted to rape a hotel housekeeper at the International Visitor Leadership Program held in Cleveland, Ohio.
Mr. Entistle petition 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 Program on good governance.
“We received troubling allegations regarding the behavior of three members of the delegation to the U.S. Government’s flagship professional exchange program.
“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 behavior:
“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 ambassador expressed concern that these acts of misconduct could jeopardize American diplomatic relations, adding that it also negatively impacts Nigeria’s public image.
“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 judgment leads to a poor impression of the Nigerian people generally, though it is far from accurate.
“Such incidents jeopardize the ability of future programming and make host institutions and organizations 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 Program. This leads us to question whether to include National Assembly members for other similar programs 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 programs designed to benefit Nigeria.”