BY SAMUEL OGUNDIPEJUL
A Nigerian senator has owned up to a scandalous video that showed him dressing up in the presence of two women in a room, presumably after sex.
But Bukar Ibrahim, representing Yobe East Senatorial District, told PREMIUM TIMES in his first interview since the scandal broke that he had not committed any official wrongdoing and the video was only made public after attempts to blackmail him failed.
“This is a personal, private matter. What does my having been with a girl have to do with the public?
“You know the normal thing: people ask for unreasonable things, and if you deny them, they try to blackmail you if they have a way,” Mr. Ibrahim, a former governor of Yobe State, said Monday afternoon.
Sahara Reporters published the video on the Internet Sunday, and it quickly caught online frenzy.
The footage, roughly two minutes long, showed Mr. Ibrahim reaching for his underwear, apparently after emerging from the shower.
In the room, one of the two women in the video held a device that was capturing the activities; while the other strolled about. But none of them was stripped like Mr. Ibrahim.
Mr. Ibrahim said he couldn’t remember where or when sexual activities took place, but the room appeared like a typical motel accommodation.
The senator said he owed no one an explanation since he was not accused of any crime.
“If they say I raped, that’s a different matter altogether,” Mr. Ibrahim said. “Is it because I am a public official then I am not supposed to be entitled to private life?”
The senator said he knew when one of the women was filming him, but was told it was only for fun and they also wanted to illuminate the room with a camera.
“They just mentioned it to me as a joke and I took it as nothing really serious,” he said. “This is something that happened between two adults.”
Mr. Ibrahim, who signed a controversial Sharia law while in office as governor, nonetheless, said he will investigate the matter.
“I have commenced investigations to find out why it is circulating,” the senator said. “But from all indications, it is a blackmail.”
The latest scandal underscores growing cases of indiscretion amongst Nigerian lawmakers.
It comes barely a year after a former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria accused three members of the House of Representatives of sexual misconduct.
James Entwistle, who left Nigeria last August, said in a petition to Speaker Yakubu Dogara that the lawmakers solicited sex from prostitutes and hotel workers during a leadership training assignment in Ohio, midwestern United States.
In his petition, which was published by New Telegraph in Lagos, Mr. Entwistle said he had evidence to nail Mohammed Galolo, Samuel Ikon and Mark Gbillah of the sexual offences.
But the lawmakers denied the allegations and added their voice to the growing calls for a thorough investigation at the time
The House later cleared the trio following an internal investigation by its Ethics and Privileges Committee. Mr. Entwistle declined an invitation to testify before the committee.
Samuel Anyawu, Chairman of Senate Ethics Committee, told PREMIUM TIMES he had not been fully briefed on the viral video of Mr. Ibrahim, but said he would wait until the entire Senate gives him instruction on how to proceed.
“I am not fully aware of what transpired,” Mr. Anyawu, representing Imo East Senatorial District, said Monday. “I will wait for the Senate to give direction on how to proceed, if at all.”
A Lagos-based lawyer, Liborous Oshoma, said the latest scandal further corroborates longstanding public perception of Nigerian politics and politicians.
“In Nigeria, the more honorable or distinguished you become, the less honorable or distinguished your behavior becomes,” Mr. Oshoma said in an apparent mockery of House members and Senators who prefer to be addressed as ‘honourables’ and ‘distinguished’, respectively.
“This is what our politics and politicians have been associated with for decades —female politicians drinking and attending late night events with male politicians who cannot do without sleeping with women that are not their wives,” Mr. Oshoma said.
“So, if one is coming to the public light right now, it just goes to buttress what everyone has always known.”
Mr. Oshoma said Nigerians would expect no serious outcome from the Senate, even if the body conducts an investigation into the latest scandal.
“We have enough issues on our hands to begin to discuss a Senator with illicit affairs,” Mr. Oshoma said. “Let the Senators deal with the issues surrounding our ailing president and take Nigeria out of the current crisis.”