The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, and outgoing United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, yesterday failed again on Wednesday
to appear before the Joint House of Representatives Committees on Ethics/Privileges and Foreign Relations investigating the alleged sexual misconduct against three lawmakers in the United States of America last April.
The three members involved in the sex scandal are the Deputy Chairman, Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Mr. Terse Mark-Gbillah (All Progressives Congress, Benue); Mr. Samuel Ikon (Peoples Democratic Party, Akwa Ibom); and Mr. Mohammed Garba-Gololo (APC, Bauchi).
They accused the ambassador of racial discrimination, adding that the allegation, which they claimed never existed, was a plot to smear the image of the country. They also said the absence of the ambassador and the postponement of the investigative hearing on two occasions were a denial in disguise.
The probe was stalled last week because Onyeama said he was away in Kigali, Rwanda, to attend the 29th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union.
The committees, jointly chaired by Mr. Nicholas Ossai and Nnena Ukeje, rescheduled the hearing for Wednesday (yesterday) to allow the Foreign Affairs Minister address the session.
The committees decided to explore the diplomatic protocol of hearing from Onyeama, as the minister had already met with the outgoing American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle, on the issue.
Entwistle had petitioned the Speaker of the House, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, alleging sexual misconduct against the three lawmakers on June 9.
On Wednesday (yesterday), however, Onyeama could still not attend the hearing as he had to attend the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja.
The minister requested the committee to reschedule his appearance.
“The new timing is not convenient for me as it clashes with the FEC meeting. I am inclined to request the postponement of my appearance,” Onyeama said in a letter, which was read by Ossai.
Members of the committee were agitated by the content of the letter and they did not hesitate to register their displeasure.