Embattled Envoy Questions Sale of FGN US Properties

Brig. Gen. Oluwole Rotimi (rtd) is querying the decision of the Nigerian Embassy’s attorney, Emeka Ugwuonye to retain a $1.55 million tax refund on the sale of the property from a 2007 transaction.


While Rotimi argues that the money belongs to the Federal Government and should be returned to the treasury, Ugwuonye insists that he had an agreement with the embassy to put a lien (a legal hold) pending the resolution of issues surrounding the money in lieu of other money owed him by the government for legal services rendered by his law firm of over 20 lawyers.

According to the Ambassador, the Embassy has paid the attorney his legal fees, adding that “we do not owe him a dollar.” Asked if he was aware that Ugwuonye had an agreement with the embassy that empowered him to invoke a lien on the refund, Rotimi challenged the lawyer to provide such proof.


Ugwuonye had been retained by the Embassy to manage the sale of the property several years before the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency, when the sale of the property started. Some of the sales transaction occurred during the tenure of Prof. George Obiozor as Nigeria’s envoy.

Four Embassy properties were sold in the early years of President Obasanjo’s first term and in 2007. The properties include those that housed the Nigerian Embassy’s operations.


The first was an abandoned property on M Street in the U.S. capital. The building used to serve as the Embassy’s offices in Washington, DC. It was sold for about $2.5 million. The second was the Nigerian Embassy office on 16th Street, sold for $7 million, while another one on M Street was sold for $12 million. They were abandoned after Nigeria built a bigger embassy office in the U.S. at International Court in Washington, DC. Former Vice President Abubakar Atiku commissioned the new office in 2003.


The 4th property sold was the Ambassador’s residence on Connecticut Street, close to Washington, DC but actually located in the adjoining state of Maryland. The residence was considered a security concern because it was too close to the main road.


While the transactions were completed late in 2007, a tax refund, which had been withheld – a common practice in U.S. real estate sales – from Nigeria by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service was later released through the Nigerian Attorney in the sum of $1.55 million.


Source – the guardian


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