Foreign Affairs Perm Sec reacts to sexual harassment allegations

Following the allegations of sexual harassment leveled against him by one Mrs Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Adamu Ibrahim Lamuwa, has filed his response.

Recall that Lamawa was accused of sexual harassment by a married employee of the ministry, Mrs Simisola Fajemirokun Ajayi, who disclosed the alleged excesses of the permanent secretary to Ambassador Tuggar, through her lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), where the minister was asked to investigate the permanent secretary.

But in a response to the Head Of Service and leaked to the media, Lamuwa narrated his conversation and interaction with Mrs Simisola, stating that at the 4D retreat, his question to the woman was not personal. He also denied asking her to come to his room at anytime.

“I did not ask her to come to my room, when other staff directly working in my office escorted me to my room, by bringing my bag and other documents. They include my Personal Assistant and Driver. Mrs.”

He denied that Mrs “Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi came to his room with them or alone, at any time during the Retreat.

Speaking on the discussion about the woman being a nursing mother, he wrote that as for being a nursing mother, the discussion was held in public glare with so many other participants – “it was not a one-on-one discussion I had with her. I remember one of the participants jokingly said for women, when they say ‘my baby’, it could mean either the husband or any of her children. That was how the question of “how big is the baby.”

Denying having any inappropriate conversations with the woman, he said, “I also cannot remember any inappropriate conversations with her, as we were all busy and I was shuttling between the venue of the Retreat and my office.“

Also disclosing what transpired during a meeting with Galaxy Backbone team in late 2023, he said, “There was no any private discussion with Mrs. Simisola during or after the meeting, saying that he proceeded to prepare for his afternoon prayers, which was almost late by the time he finished the meeting. He denied inviting her to go to Hong Kong.”

Denying further, he said it would not have been possible to travel with her because she is an SA to the Minister.

On the aspect of ‘frontal’, hug, he said, “All these conversations were done in a very short period and I was eager to go for prayers. So, I would not have asked her for a “frontal hug” on my way to say my prayers. I am fully aware that she is a married woman and had once said in a group conversation, that she does not hug men, she does that to only children and women. I cannot precisely recall on which occasion she made this remark, as we have been meeting with her and so many groups of people in the course of our official engagements.”

Making clarifications on Mrs. Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi’s office allocation, he said he only assisted her with an office space on the 8th floor because she complained to him regarding her office space problem.

Recalling one of the issues he had with her, the Perm Sec said, “Meanwhile, before delivering her message from the Minister, I engaged her on an issue which I know has caused some misunderstandings between us (her trip to the World Economic Forum (WEF), Davos in February. We reviewed the whole trip and I assured her that we were looking at the best way to get her money refunded to her. That there was nothing personal or any attempt to deny her entitlements. However, I emphasized that I was only protecting myself, the system and even herself while complying with Due Process.”

“As to why I called her a big woman and laughed, it was a sarcastic response to her offer for me as Permanent Secretary to keep her Davos claims. At this point she said that she was not angry but that she was bereaved at that time and needed the money to cater for funeral expenses, as she lost her sister in-law. I interjected and said I did not know about her bereavement; I would have condoled her.”

Refuting looking into any camera or CCTV monitor when she made to leave, he said there was no such devices in the room and there would have been no possibility to do so before carrying out any act as being alleged.

On his last records in Canada, he denied ever attending any rehabilitation or being required to go for one. He said there was “no any charge on me. I left a clean record in Canada when I was recalled to Headquarters in 2007.

“It is important to state that, in my almost 32 years of Service in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I have never had any stain in my records, no query, no report from any woman on sexual harassment,” he said.

He also denied the allegations connecting her to female directors, saying, “I have never had any incident with any female Director in any hotel room neither 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.”

Raising an allegation against Simisola, he wrote, “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 policy files and financial records of the Ministry. 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 payment of 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.

“It is clear that there are two issues that have been worrying Mrs. Simisola O. Fajemirokun-Ajayi and was therefore waiting for any opportunity to get back at me. But whatever happens, I believe, I was exercising my duty as the Accounting Officer of the Ministry by ensuring that Due Process was followed all the time, and that SA’s (Political Appointees) do not have access to policy files. All public expenditures are properly documented before payments are made.”

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