I did not authorise sale of Nigeria’s property in Washington- Ogwu

The former minister said she never gave the authorisation for the sale.

Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, UN, Joy Ogwu, has said she did not authorise the sale of any Federal Government property in Washington D.C. during her tenure as foreign minister from 2006-2007.

Ms. Ogwu gave the clarification in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday in Abuja.

Her comments came on the heels of her invitation by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs investigating the alleged embezzlement of $23.5 million from the Nigerian embassy in Washington D.C.

The funds were said to be proceeds from the sale of three Federal Government houses in Washington D.C. between 2004-2007; while the foreign affairs ministry has stated that the proceeds were adequately remitted.

The Senate initiated the probe following a petition by one David Elombah.

Ms. Ogwu said: “In a letter dated June 10, I was invited by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs on a petition concerning misappropriation and embezzlement of funds by the Nigerian ambassador to the U.S. and others.

“Paragraph two of the letter states that I am invited to the meeting in my capacity as former foreign affairs minister 2006-2007.

“In my testimony before the senate committee on June 27, it was categorically emphasised that I neither received any request nor granted authorisation to any ambassador concerning the sale of Nigerian properties in Washington D.C.

“Indeed, projects of such enormity are traditionally for the consideration of the Federal Executive Council.

“It is very instructive to note that I was not invited to the Senate in my present capacity as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, because I am not under trial.

“I was invited in my capacity as former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria and the property and the attendant proceeds are in Washington D.C and I have absolutely nothing to do with it,” she said.

The former minister noted that the clarification became pertinent following what she called “malicious misinformation” making the rounds in the media. She said she had been erroneously portrayed as having appeared before the Senate in her capacity as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative at the UN.

“Some reports have even labelled me as a former Nigeria ambassador to the U.S., who succeeded Prof. George Obiozor.

“That is wrong because I have never been Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S,” she stressed.

On Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly denied that 23 million dollars was embezzled at its diplomatic mission in Washington D.C.

The ministry statement came after Mr. Obiozor; Nigeria’s current Ambassador to the U.S., Professor Ade Adefuye; and Ms. Ogwu testified before the senate committee in a closed-door session.

According to the statement, “all monies involved in the sale of Federal Government properties were duly and completely accounted for.”

It went further to claim that the sales were duly authorised by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and appealed to the public to be patient and await the final report of the senate committee probing the allegation.

(NAN)


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