My subordinate accused me of sexual harassment because I refused to pay her bills, Perm sec alleges

Perm-Sec Ibrahim Lamuwa

Ibrahim Lamuwa, the permanent secretary of the federal ministry of foreign affairs, has denied allegations of sexual harassment made against him by Simisola Fajemirokun-Ajayi, an official of the ministry. 

According to Lamuwa, the allegations stem from his refusal to pay Ajayi's bills during an official trip to Davos and his denial of her access to policy files and financial records of the ministry.

The allegations of sexual harassment were brought to the attention of Folasade Yemi-Esan, the head of service of the federation (HoS), by Yusuf Tuggar, the minister of foreign affairs. The minister had, in a letter, notified Yemi-Esan of the matter after receiving a petition from Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer.

In his response to the allegations, Lamuwa emphasized that his actions were not motivated by any sexual intentions but rather by his refusal to comply with Ajayi's demands. He maintained that the accusations were unfounded and that his actions were within the scope of his official duties.

The permanent secretary said he has never sexually harassed her but has maintained a professional relationship with all his subordinates.

“I have served for nine years cumulatively in the State House, in the Office of the Vice President, Chief of Staff to the President, and the exalted Office of the President at various times under Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, Mr. David Edevbie, Amb. Abdullahi Gwary, and lastly, Amb. Lawal Kazaure,” Lamuwa’s leaked response reads.

“I received three letters of commendation at various times from the State House for meritorious service.

“On allegations of female directors being harassed, I have never had any incident with any female director in any hotel room, nor have I ever removed any female officers’ names from trips or postings because they refused to comply with any sexual demands.

“No four women or any number could have shared any alleged ordeal with me with her, as no such incidents have happened in the past, and it is untrue that any such common knowledge exists in the Ministry, as there is no basis for it.

“From the foregoing, I believe Mrs. Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi’s action might not be unconnected with my failure to pay her Davos bills or give her access to the Ministry’s policy files and financial records.

“For example, on 12th January, 2023, while in Davos, on a WhatsApp chat, she tried to know what I and the DFA were doing about the payment of the outstanding Nigerian Mission’s 1st Semester Allocation of about N12,957,103,477, claiming to know the Minister has spoken to the CBN Governor on the issue.

“In my response, I told her that Missions’ funding should not concern her, as it was being handled at the highest level. Her response was ‘Noted Sir. As directed by the Hon. Minister sir, does it concern Me?’. I wrote back to say, ‘I sorted that out with the HMFA yesterday’. And she said ‘thank you’. I knew she was angry with me about that.

“It is clear that there are two issues that have been worrying Mrs. Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi and were therefore waiting for any opportunity to get back at me.”

The permanent secretary added that they had exchanged jokes on many occasions in the presence of other people.
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