By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
The salacious story of the three members of the House of Representatives who ALLEGEDLY deviated from their leadership training conference in America to solicit for prostitutes has fascinated many. In local parlance, women are usually described as conference materials who have over time become standard protocol for visiting government officials.
Not surprisingly, many Nigerians have been quick to rush to judgment; pronouncing the legislators guilty. One basis for the guilty judgment is the fact that the accusation came from the United States ambassador, and as such, it could not have been tainted by the nuances that characterise the Nigerian legal system.
Another reason why some were also quick to pronounce the three lawmakers guilty was the sordid chronicle of debauchery that has been exhibited by many former and serving lawmakers.
That inclination to licentiousness is easily demonstrated by the case of one former senator who won the unpopular reputation of designating a personal assistant to handle the bevy of beauties who took turns with him night and day whenever he was in town.
Of course, that senator did not have his family in Abuja. Indeed, until quite recently many legislators saw Abuja as a passing phase with many keeping their families in their constituencies. If any male legislator came to Abuja with straight morals, more often than not, many of them were bound to be tempted by the horde of often sleazy women within and outside the chambers.
Many reputations have been shattered on account of shady activities committed with women in the National Assembly. One senator from the North, who came to the National Assembly with a glistening Ph.D. after one term, easily won a reputation for infamy on account of several sexual trysts allegedly in his White House Building office.
The impiety was not restricted to the male legislators. Though most of the female senators came polished and carried themselves with dignity, a couple, however, deviated from the path of feminine grace. There was one female legislator who would wear low neck blouses that whenever she bent to lay a report before the presiding officer would inevitably be prompting the presiding officer sitting on the dais with a full view of her breasts.
For many spouses of the legislators, the best defence was often to resort to prayers to keep their spouses from temptations. One was even alleged to have even gone further. The wife of Senator Erhiawarie Efekeraya took matters on a more practical way when her husband served in the Senate between 2007 and 2011. Mrs. Efekeraya took a position in her husband’s office as one of his SAs, putting to flight any woman with seamy desires for her husband.
Of course, the narrative is not universal. In the same legislature, a number of men and women have also acquitted themselves with grace. It is in this light that the allegations against the three members of the House have to be interrogated to the purpose of ensuring that the guiltless are not unnecessarily punished.
The case of Rep. Mark Gbillah whose wife, he claims travels with him and was with him in the United States, on the surface needs to be further interrogated. With his wife in the hotel room, Mr. Gbillah would be a pervert to have been looking for a prostitute in America.
It is unfortunate that the salacious slant of many legislators have put the legislators at a disadvantage in the court of public opinion, but they are entitled to a defence before condemnation.