(Magnus Eze, ABUJA)
As the sex scandal involving three members of House of Representatives during a recent official trip to the United States of America continues to generate headlines, two immediate past ambassadors have called for caution in handling the controversy.
The former diplomats, who once manned the nation’s diplomatic missions in Asian and African countries respectively, would not want their names in print.
They saw the letter sent to the Speaker of the House by the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle, intimating him of the incident as a mere diplomatic warning, noting that it was also in order.
While the former envoy to the Asian country opined that the “U.S. Government has the right to complain about any infraction on their law by a visiting diplomat…”, his counterpart urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to handle it diplomatically.
The former diplomats expressed dismay that, apart from jeopardising similar training opportunities for Nigerian legislators in the future, the incident has negatively impacted the country’s image.
One of the diplomats, who had served as a federal legislator before his diplomatic posting, commended Speaker Yakubu Dogara for steps taken so far in addressing the matter, insisting that the legislators must be sanctioned if found to have abused their diplomatic privileges.
He said: “The speaker is not in anywhere shielding the legislators from what I read. But he is only being careful not to be seen as the one punishing his own men since who asserts must prove. We have the Ethics Committee in the House. I don’t know what the U.S. Government wants to do. But I take it that the U.S. has issued a warning, that the legislators should behave themselves as they won’t tolerate such a thing again. They should behave like mature people. As leaders, you must lead by example.”
The House members at the centre of the controversy, Mohammed Garba Gololo (APC, Bauchi), Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom) and Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) have denied bringing disrepute to the parliament by allegedly soliciting for sex from prostitutes and grabbing a hotel housekeeper in a bid to rape her.