25.2 C
Lagos
Monday, July 15, 2024

Foreign Affairs Ministry Perm. Sec. fights back allegation of sexual harassment

Must read

Perm Sec Denies Sexual Harassment Allegation, Says Accuser a Minister’s Aide Seeking Financial Gain

The last has not been heard of the sexual harassment allegations levelled against the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Lamuwa, by a political aide to the Minister.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, had written to the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Folasade Yemi-Esan, to probe the allegation of sexual harassment against the Permanent Secretary.

In the letter dated May 27, Tuggar said he felt it necessary to write to her following the “gravity of the matter”, urging Yemi-Esan to handle it accordingly.

The Minister added that he would provide any assistance required for the head of service to discharge her duties.

Mrs. Simisola Fajemirokun-Ajayi, who works with the Minister, had written a petition to her principal through her lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), accusing the Permanent Secretary of repeatedly seeking sexual favours from her.

Sources in the Ministry, who are familiar with the series of disagreements between the Permanent Secretary and the Minister on the one hand and the Permanent Secretary and the Minister’s aide on the other hand, have, however, told PRNigeria that the allegations of sexual misconduct may be far from the truth.

A particular source who sought anonymity said the Minister’s aide had not gotten her way over some demands from the Permanent Secretary, hence her resort to seeking to damage his 32-year-old career.

“The lady lacks knowledge of the civil service rule on financial records and confidential documents restricted to certain officers. She was therefore frustrated that the permanent secretary denied her access to such privileges and other financial requests that cannot be defended,” the source said.

The source said it is improbable for the Permanent Secretary to harass the lady sexually, adding that the ongoing battle may be a proxy one between the former and the Minister himself.

The source observed that the Minister showed his hands in the way he hurriedly threw the Permanent Secretary under the bus by writing a strongly worded letter to the Head of Service to seek his probe.

Meanwhile, a document sighted by PRNigeria showed that lawyers for the embattled Permanent Secretary have responded to the allegations.

In the document, the lawyers led by Audu Anuga SAN faulted all the claims of the accuser, saying that in her petition, she mischievously read meanings to the kind and courteous dispositions of the Permanent Secretary.

The document read: “We are legal representatives of Ambassador Ibrahim Lamuwa (hereinafter referred to as “our client”), the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have been authorised to make the following statement on his behalf, in response to allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by Mrs Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi, an aide to the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“The media, particularly the social media, has been inundated with the digital copy of a petition written by legal representatives of Mrs. Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi against Amb. Lamuwa. This petition was leaked to generate sympathy for her unsubstantiated claims.

“We wish to state categorically that our client has never made any sexual advances towards Mrs. Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi, who he is aware is a married woman, neither has he ever made suggestive comments or innuendos that requested any form of untoward relationship between himself and her.

“Our client distinctly recalls the events at the ministry’s retreat on October 7th 2023 where Mrs Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi claims that he invited her to his room. Our client states categorically that he never made such an invitation and that his only communication with Mrs Fajemirokun-Ajayi, which was an overt one, was where he checked on her, like he did to all participants on whether they had been well-lodged in their hotels.

“He further recalls that the instance where he spoke of her as a nursing mother, during the same retreat was in a colloquial conversation they were having with other participants, where one participant even responded jokingly that when a woman says “her baby” it could mean either her husband or one of her children, of which he innocuously joked asking “how big is the baby?” Our client maintains that those conversations were made jokingly and sees their misinterpretation as malicious and with ill intent.

“Our client also maintains that it is absurd for Mrs Fajemirokun-Ajayi to claim that he invited her to Hong Kong, given that the conversation they were both having was on how Hong Kong had digitised its work processes as far back as 1999. Our client wonders how such a conversation became interpreted as an invitation for her to travel alongside himself, knowing full well that she is an aide to the minister. How can she leave the minister to follow the permanent secretary on a vacation? Would that not be the height of delusion for the one requesting and the one heeding the request?

“It is clear that the minister’s aide has misinterpreted ordinary conversations, made openly and in the presence of other participants, for untoward intentions. We believe these allegations are directly tied to our client’s firm objections raised regarding Mrs Fajemirokun-Ajayi’s improper requests, particularly regarding financial matters in the ministry.

“For example, Mrs. Fajemirokun-Ajayi made a trip to the World Economic Forum (Davos), of which she sought a reimbursement from the ministry. Our client firmly explained to her that while the ministry may look at avenues to refund her expenses, it is not the appropriate process for a trip to be made without approval, and then funded with taxpayers’ money. after the fact.

“Further to this is the fact of Mrs Fajemirokun-Ajayi’s unfamiliarity with civil service rules and processes, where she had requested access to policy files and even financial records of high-level ministry activities from our client. By no means should the permanent secretary, as chief accounting officer of the ministry, provide such sensitive documents to an aide of the minister, worse via a WhatsApp chat. There are due processes in government, and they must be followed.

“We must emphasise that Mrs Fajemirokun-Ajayi is a political appointee not a civil servant. Thus, finance and policy matters are out of her bounds in this instance.

“It is crucial to mention that our client, in all his 32 years of service in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, never received a query nor a report against him bordering on harassment, let alone sexual harassment. During this period, our client has served in Hong Kong, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Syria and more recently, Senegal, and there has never been a negative report on his conduct in any of these countries.

“Ambassador Lamuwa has also served for nine years in the State House. From the office of the vice president to the office of the chief of staff to the president, and to the office of the president, and no negative report or allegation of any kind has ever been raised against him,” the legal document stated.

● Report by PRNigeria

- Advertisement -spot_img

More articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related articles