Foreign Affairs Ministry's Permanent Secretary accused of sexual harassment by married subordinate

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, has written to the Head of Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan, regarding allegations of sexual harassment against Ibrahim Lamuwa, the permanent secretary of the ministry. 

The allegations were made by Simisola Fajemirokun Ajayi, a married female employee of the ministry, who reported Lamuwa's alleged sexual advances to Tuggar through her lawyer, Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria.

The document, according to a report of The Cable, was signed by Adebayo Oniyelu, on behalf of Falana.

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

According to the petition, Lamuwa approached Ajayi on October 7, 2023, during the first policy retreat to review President Bola Tinubu’s 4D policy, to ask why she did not sleep at the hotel after the event.

The petition added that the permanent secretary informed Ajayi that he would want her to come to his room after the event but she declined, saying she was a nursing mother and needed to go home to care for her baby.

“Is it a big baby or small baby?” the petition quoted Lamuwa as inquiring, adding that he would like to find out so he can join.

“He, however, continued this line of inappropriate anecdotes throughout the retreat.

“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.”

Citing another instance, Oniyelu said Lamuwa summoned Ajayi and challenged her that she 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 and referring to her as a ‘stubborn woman’,” Oniyelu said.

The petition added that a discreet investigation conducted by Ajayi revealed that other women, particularly female directors, were almost raped in their hotel rooms, adding that female foreign service officers have been harassed, threatened and removed from trips, postings and other privileges because they declined to comply with Lamuwa’s sexual urges.

Tuggar asked Yemi-Esan to handle the matter accordingly.

The minister also said he would provide any assistance required for the head of service to discharge her duties.
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