Sexual harassment: HoS suspends perm sec, orders probe

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The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Lamuwa, has been suspended by the Office of the Head of Service over sexual harassment allegation.

The Head of Service, Folashade Yemi-Esan, said the permanent secretary would be on suspension pending the outcome of a probe into the allegation against him.

“The permanent secretary has been suspended pending the outcome of the probe by the committee set up, “ a senior director in the OHCSF told our correspondent in Abuja.

It was learnt that following a petition submitted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, against Lamuwa, the HoS constituted a committee to look into the matter.

The complainant in the petition submitted by Tuggar was one Simisola Ajayi, who accused Lamuwa of serial sexual harassment.

Ajayi, in the petition filed by her lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), outlined alleged instances of harassment.

In a letter addressed to the Head of Service on May 27, 2024, Tuggar expressed his concern over the serious nature of the allegations involving the permanent secretary.

“I am compelled to write to inform you of a formal complaint against the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Adamu Lamuwa, on allegations of sexual harassment.

“Bearing in mind the gravity of the matter, I feel it necessary to draw your attention to it and ask that you handle it accordingly,” the minister stated in the letter.

An official familiar with the case told our correspondent on Wednesday that following the receipt of Tuggar’s letter on the allegation against Lamuwa, the HoS had set up a probe panel.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter, said, “Yes, the Head of Service has set up a committee to probe the whole matter. There are pieces of evidence, which will be tabled and witnesses who will also be invited to speak on the matter,  so it is not a matter that will be swept under the carpet.

“The minister (Tuggar) is also very much interested in the outcome. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a special ministry that operates even outside the shores of the country, so you can’t expect that an issue of such gravity will be swept under the carpet.”

Ajayi had, in a petition dated May 29, 2024 and addressed to Tuggar, accused the permanent secretary of serial sexual harassment.

The petition, signed by Adebayo A. Oniyelu LP of Falana & Falana’s, was titled “Request For An Investigation Of Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa’s Conducts Of Sexual Harassment At The Place Of Work, Abuse Of Office, Official Intimidation And Discrimination.”

According to the petition, Ajayi narrated multiple instances of harassment allegedly by Lamuwa, which had created an unsafe and uncomfortable working environment.

She claimed for instance that during a policy retreat on October 7, 2023, Lamuwa allegedly made inappropriate advances towards her, suggesting she joined him in his hotel room.

He reportedly continued with inappropriate remarks throughout the retreat.

She also cited an incident on November 10, 2023, where Lamuwa allegedly invited Ajayi to travel to Hong Kong, promising significant personal benefits from the trip.

Punch

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