Perm Sec denies sexual harassment allegations, cites refusal to comply as motive

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

Lamuwa contends that the accusation stems from his refusal to comply with her demands.

Yusuf Tuggar, the minister of foreign affairs, formally notified Folasade Yemi-Esan, the head of service of the federation (HoS), of the situation.

The gravity of the matter prompted the minister to communicate the development to Yemi-Esan, following a petition by Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer.

In his response to the allegation, Lamuwa emphasized that his refusal to pay Ajayi’s bills during an official trip to Davos and his denial of access to policy files and financial records of the ministry were the underlying reasons for the accusation of sexual harassment.

Lamuwa firmly denied any wrongdoing, stating, “I have served for nine years cumulatively in the State House… and lastly, Amb. Lawal Kazaure.”

Addressing the specific allegations, Lamuwa highlighted a WhatsApp exchange regarding financial matters, where Ajayi expressed dissatisfaction with his response. Lamuwa interpreted this as a sign of her displeasure.

He concluded by asserting that their interactions had been friendly and professional, with no indication of any misconduct.

The response sheds light on a complex situation involving high-level officials in the federal ministry of foreign affairs, raising questions about workplace dynamics and allegations of impropriety.

He said, “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 further noted that they had exchanged jokes on many occasions in the presence of other people.

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