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Reps clear colleagues of alleged sexual misconduct

By Adamu Abuh and Otei Oham (Abuja)   |   12 October 2016   |   3:21 am

James Entwistle, outgoing U.S Ambasssador to Nigeria

James Entwistle, outgoing U.S Ambasssador to Nigeria

• Disagree on proposed foreign trade commission
The House of Representatives, yesterday, gave a clean bill of health to three of their colleagues over allegations of sexual misconduct made by James Entwistle, former United States Ambassador to Nigeria.

Adopting the report of the Ossai Nicholas Ossai-led Committee on Ethics and Privileges, the lawmakers cleared Mohammed Garba Gololo, Mark Terseer Gbillah, and Samuel Ikon of allegations in a June 9, 2016 letter by Entwistle to House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.

The lawmakers also directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to caution the U.S. embassy on the need to adopt official channel of communication when dealing with any organ of government.

The report, adopted at the plenary presided by Deputy House Speaker, Sulaimon Yusuff Lassun, directed the Ministry to engage the U.S. envoy, with a view to resolving fallout of the matter.

The report faulted decision by the embassy to revoke the travel visas of the accused lawmakers on June 15, 2016. It said the move was not only misconceived but was also an erroneous conclusion of guilt.

Meanwhile, plan by some members to push establishment of an International Trade Commission for Nigeria was divisive. The commission is expected to coordinate global trade policies and issues for the country.

Some members backed the initiative advanced in a bill by Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP, Abia). Others, however, argued that creating the body was dabbling into responsibilities of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA).

Muhammad Sani Abdu (Alkaleri/Kirfi, Bauchi) urged his colleagues to be wary of endorsing the bill, saying the existing agencies were up to the task. Nnena Elendu Ukeje (PDP, Abia), however, urged her colleagues to back the bill, to boost global trade relations.

Ossai said the grounds for his committee’s findings included none submission of evidence by the complainant, despite being invited to do by appropriate authorities.

“All the complainants – car park attendants – declined the request to testify against the accused persons. Consequently, there was no evidence to substantiate the allegation.

“There was no information as to why the complainants could not testify. The U.S. embassy was contented with being silent. This silence or no evidence at all can only be resolved in favour of the accused persons, as he who alleges must prove, otherwise the accused would have no case to answer. And this is the case here.”

The accused, we’re among 10 members of the House who attended the International Visitors Leadership Programme, April 3 to April 12, 2016, in Washington DC and Cleveland, U.S.A.

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James Entwistle

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