Foreign Affairs minister writes Head of Service over sexual harassment allegation against Perm Sec

Foreign Affairs minister writes Head of Service over sexual harassment allegation against Perm Sec

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim Lamuwa, has been accused of sexually harassing a female staff member of the ministry.

This was contained in a letter by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, addressed to Head of Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan.

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.

A married employee of the ministry, Simisola Fajemirokun Ajayi, had disclosed the excesses of the permanent secretary in a petition to the Minister, through her lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN).

Ajayi urged Tuggar to investigate the permanent secretary.

The petition 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,” was signed by Adebayo A. Oniyelu LP for Falana & Falana’s.

While narrating how the Permanent Secretary has been harassing her, the counsel reminded the minister that he had intervened in the past and was assured that such atrocity and bizarre act would not happen again yet, in May, he (Lamuwa) resumed his sexual molestation.

It read in part: “Our attention has been drawn to the bizarre and continuous incidents of sexual harassment, intimidation, oppression, discrimination and conduct likely to breach the public peace within your esteemed Ministry by Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa. Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa’s conduct has created an unsafe and uncomfortable working environment for our client and other staff within your Ministry due to the disturbing experiences and ordeals from the Permanent Secretary.

“Consequent to the foregoing, we seek the intervention of your good office on the above- captioned matter based on the following facts.

“October 7, 2023 during the first policy retreat to review President Tinubu’s 4D policy, Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa approached our client to inquire as to why she did not sleep at the hotel and informed her that he would want her to come to his room after the event. Our client explained that she was a nursing mother and needed to go home to care for her baby.

“Dissatisfied with this, he reiterated his sexual advancement to our client by saying “Is it a big baby or small baby- he suspects it’s a big baby and would like to find out so he can join”. He, however, continued this line of inappropriate anecdotes throughout the retreat.”

The petition added, “On November 10, 2023: our client went to Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa’s conference room where he was working out to discuss the plans to digitize the Ministry. Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa invited her for a meeting later that afternoon with a team from Galaxy Backbone. During the conversation, Amb, Ibrahim Lamuwa requested our client take a voyage with him to Hong Kong. He further assured our client that our client’s life would never remain the same after the trip. Our client left the scene in utter shock and disappointment because of the awkwardness of the Permanent Secretary, Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa’s discussion.

“While our client was about to excuse herself, Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa thoughtlessly put his arms around our client’s arms and demanded a full frontal hug which she rejected. The Honourable Minister would recall that sometime in March 2024, our client discussed with you concerning her safety for fear of not being raped by Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa resulting from the consistent sexual harassment reported even as a married woman.

“Upon her unfortunate predicament with the Permanent Secretary, the Honourable Minister assured our client of a change of behavior as he had confronted him.

“Sometime in May 2024, our client went to Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa’s office under the Honourable Minister’s instruction at about 3:20 pm to inform the Permanent Secretary to contact his counterpart in the Ministry of Defence for the reports needed for the upcoming US trip.

“Upon arriving at the Permanent Secretary’s office, our client was informed that he was in his inner room. In her desperate attempt to avoid getting molested, our client returned to her office and interestingly, Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa demanded that she return to his office at about 3:41pm on the same day.

“As instructed, our client immediately returned to see the Permanent Secretary. On arriving at the Permanent Secretary’s office, he commented that our client had not been to his office since February because she had grudges against him. He then offered our client to drink tea from his cup whilst forcefully putting his arms around our client’s and referring to her as a “stubborn woman”.

“Our client again hurriedly left the Permanent Secretary’s office for fear of being molested after repeated demands of a tight hug from him as he had missed seeing her.

“It is pertinent to state that a discreet investigation conducted by our client revealed that more women are with unadorned allegations against the Permanent Secretary, particularly female directors who were almost raped in the hotel rooms and female foreign service officers who have been harassed, threatened and removed from trips, postings and other privileges because they declined to comply with Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa’s uncontrolled sexual urges.

“Given the above-stated facts, the Honourable Minister would agree with us that sexual harassment, intimidation, oppression, discrimination and abuse of office in any form are unacceptable. They violate your Ministry’s policies as well as ethical standards. It includes but is not limited to unwanted advances, inappropriate comments, and any behaviour that creates a hostile work environment.

“In the circumstances, we humbly request you to use your revered office to cause a detailed investigation to be carried out into the facts presented in this petition against Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa and if found liable, appropriate disciplinary actions should be meted against him as this will serve as a deterrent against future reoccurrence of such infractions.”

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