Senate Probes $27m Proceeds From Embassy Property

Senate Probes $27m Proceeds From Embassy Property

The Senate, on Thursday, commenced investigation into the embezzlement of the sum of $27 million realised from the sale of four prime properties belonging to the Nigerian government in the US allegedly by embassy officials.

Senate Probes $27m Proceeds From Embassy Property

The properties, located in Washington DC and Maryland, were said to have been sold between 2004 and 2007.

The probe, being conducted by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, was consequent upon a petition to the Senate President, Senator David Mark.

The petition, by a group known as Transform Nigeria Movement (TNM), was signed by one Daniel Elombah and was dated January 21, 2013.

Appearing before the Senate committee at the commencent of the probe to give evidence were  Professor George Obiozor, who was the Nigerian ambassador to the US between May 2004 and July 2007 and Mrs Joy Ogwu, also a former Nigerian ambassador to the US from September 2006 to May 2007 and Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN).

Also in attendance were the current ambassador to the US, Ambassador Ade Adefuye and the petitioner, Elombah.

The petitioner, in a three-page petition,  alleged that, “available records show that between 2004 and 2007, the embassy of Nigeria sold four prime properties of the Nigerian government located in Washington DC and Maryland.”

It also commenced the sale of the fifth property located in San Francisco, California.

“For the sale of those properties, the government of Nigeria retained the services of ECULAW law firm. Out of those sales, Nigeria rialised the sum of approximately $27 million.

“All funds realised from the sales, except those set aside as fees, were remitted to the embassy of Nigeria in Washington DC.

“It was confirmed that the embassy of Nigeria had placed the funds in a special account with the M & T Bank in Washington DC.”

The petitioner further alleged that, “the embassy of Nigeria left that money in Washington DC partly because it yielded substantial monthly interests, which the embassy officials would never have accounted for.

“The funds remained in the account throughout the tenure of Ambassador Oluwole Rotimi. Then arrived Ambassador Adewale Adefuye in Washington. When Adefuye got to Washington, those funds were still lodged in the M & T bank account intact.

“Between the time Adefuye became the ambassador until March 2012, the millions in the account mysteriously disappeared.

“This became clear when the M & T bank was forced to close the bank account of Nigerian embassy and terminated all banking relations with the embassy at the beginning of 2012.

“In the correspondence between the bank and the embassy, it became clear that the accounts of the embassy with M & T bank, including the one containing the proceeds of the sale of the embassy property, had been drawn down to barely $400,000 .

“Since March 2012, there has not been any explanation of what happened to the millions of dollars that were realised from the sale of the embassy properties in the US, which were in the bank account at the time Ambassador Adefuye assumed office as the ambassador to Washington.”

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