Three members of the House of Representatives exonerated of sexual misconduct allegations levelled against them by the United States Embassy in Nigeria have picked lawyers to handle their $1billion suit against the US government, newsmen learnt.
The lawyers are to file the suit in the US, while the lawmakers will continue to communicate with them through electronic means from Nigeria, since they are barred for now from entering the US.
The affected members are House Deputy Chairman, Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream); Mr. Terse Mark-Gbillah, elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress in Benue; Mr. Samuel Ikon of the Peoples Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom; and Mr. Mohammed Garba-Gololo, also of the APC in Bauchi State.
A former US ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle, had accused the three of sexual misconduct during a visit to the US last year April, prompting the Nigerian legislature to call for an investigation.
The House had exonerated the lawmakers in October 2016 after a report by its Joint Committees on Ethics/Privileges and Foreign Relations, found no wrongdoing on their part.
Mark-Gbillah, who spoke for the lawmakers, told newsmen that the lawyers had been identified and that efforts were on to finalise consultations on the suit.
He neither gave the names of the lawyers nor the firms from where they would be hired.
Mark-Gbillah also admitted that the lawmakers’ US visas revoked in the wake of the allegations had yet to be restored.
However, he stated that the members could still travel to the US in the course of the hearing of the suit if a court order sought to have them brought to the US physically.
Mark-Gbillah said, “We have identified lawyers willing to take the case and are currently planning for the required funds to initiate the action (for damages.)
“We will communicate with our lawyers via other media for now, but we can be granted entry by the court if we are required to appear in person. We won’t be willing to disclose the costs at this time.”
Earlier in October last year, the members had told newsmen that they could ask for damages between $1bn and $10bn, depending on the final recommendation of their lawyers.
Apart from the US Government, the lawmakers added that Entwistle, the Marriot Hotel, the US Embassy and their agents would be sued for damages, in addition to an “internationally-published apology.”