Posted by News Express | 3 July 2013 | 4,268 times

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The lawyer who handled the sale of Nigeria’s property in the USA the proceeds (amounting to $27 million) of which mysteriously grew wings while in the possession of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, yesterday stormed the Nigerian Senate to guide the committee investigating the matter.

Emeka Ugwuonye, who is based in Rockville, Maryland, USA, did not only handle the transactions from which the missing money was realized but also served as the embassy’s lawyer for eight years before his contract was ended following a fee dispute.

Yesterday, Ugwuonye was physically present at the Nigerian Senate in the country’s capital, Abuja, to submit a letter to the committee investigating the scandalous affair. Dated July 2, 2013, the letter was addressed to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and copied Daniel Elombah, Esquire, leader of Transform Nigeria Citizen Initiative, the NGO whose petition led to the Senate’s investigation of the issue.

The letter, a copy of which is in the possession of News Express, is entitled “Senate Committee Hearings in Respect of the Real Estate Transactions of Nigerian Embassy in Washington D.C. and the Status of the Funds Realized from Those Transactions”. It reads as follows:

Dear Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Senator:

I am the founder and principal counsel of the law firm, ECULAW, which represented the Government of Nigeria and guided the Embassy of Nigeria in Washington in respect of the real estate transactions now the subject matter of your Committee’s investigation and hearings.

I have considerable information, backed by documentary evidence, relating to those transactions. Such information and documentary evidence would be relevant to your Committee’s investigation. In particular, I have authoritative information on the following:

  1. The decision process and Nigerian Government policy to sell those properties and as regards the one property that was bought in 2005 by the Embassy.
  2. The processes of the marketing and sale of those properties, including the bidding processes and selection of the buyers.
  3. The value of each property sold, and the amount realized.
  4. What happened to the money realized from each sale.
  5. The names and addresses of the buyers.
  6. The handling of the proceeds of the sales after the sales.
  7. The roles of various officials of the Nigerian Embassy and other government officials in respect of these matters.
  8. The circumstances surrounding the disbursement or use or misuse of the funds realized from the sales.
  9. Some measures taken by some officials of the government and the Embassy to cover up certain actions and decisions taken by them in respect of the funds.

10.  The circumstances leading to the closure of Nigerian Embassy bank accounts in the United States in 2013, at which point the Embassy account balances stood at barely above $400,000. And these were the same accounts in which the Embassy had deposited the monies realized from the sales of the properties.

11.  The circumstances leading to the borrowing of money from M & T Bank for the purchase of the present Ambassador’s residence.

12.  The circumstances surrounding the sale or attempted sale of the Nigerian Government property in San Francisco, California.

13.  And other matters that may be of interest to the Committee’s work.

Apart from being the lawyer that represented the Government in these transactions, I happened to have been the Embassy lawyer for a period of eight years. As a result of the sustained relationship between my law firm and the Embassy and between my law firm and the Government of Nigeria, I believe I possess the most comprehensive institutional and factual memory and records of what happened in these matters.

Without pre-empting this Committee, having read in the newspapers the petition submitted to the Committee, I believe the allegations in the petition would be substantially collaborated by the information and evidence at my disposal.

As a citizen of Nigeria, I commend the efforts of the Senate President and this Committee to get to the bottom of these matters, which have been subject of speculation and pain and suffering for many. The Senate of Nigeria has legitimate and constitutional powers to inquire into these matters. I am willing and ready to testify before the Committee. I would have loved to appear before the Committee today. However, I had been in Nigeria on another matter and did not come with all the documents the Committee would need to see. Rather than appearing today without these documents, I would rather request for an opportunity of another date convenient to the Chairman of the Committee to enable me appear before the Committee.

Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Senator, I thank you very much for your attention to my letter and may God guide the hearings and deliberations of your Committee.

•Photo shows Emeka Ugwuonye.

Source: News Express

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