- Category: Latest
- Published on Friday, 29 June 2012 11:35
- Written by Ogbole Amedu-Ode
Press Release Re: The Minister Of Foreign Affairs Implicated In The Ongoing Investigations Over The Nigerian Embassy Banking Scandal: Rejoinder To On-Line Publication At Elombah.Com
The attention of the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru has been drawn to a report in your on-line publication with the above-stated caption. It has been considered necessary that the story, like the previous ones, be exposed for the lies it seeks to push to the readers of your medium.
Any unbiased reader of the story would find no evidence in support of the alleged complicity of the incumbent Foreign Minister as your headline would suggest. First, the story of alleged sale of several Embassy properties in Washington emerged in 2004.
This is eight (8) years and a succession of five (5) Foreign Ministers long before the incumbent Foreign Minister assumed office in July 2011.
Second,had the authors of this malicious article cared to exercise due diligence and circumspection, they would have noted that this matter is not only in court, which makes any serious comment on it sub judice, but it is also a subject of on-going investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes and prosecution by the Federal Ministry of Justice.
How then can the incumbent Honourable Minister be accused of cover up on an issue that is being addressed by the Federal Government through its competent agencies and the courts.
The latest write up seems to have come after the Embassy in Washington and the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs had, on several occasions, successfully debunked the persistent stories in your medium on the so-called money laundering activities in which you claimed, without proof or basis, that the Embassy had been implicated.
The Ministry wonders what the next story would be since there is a deliberate attempt to denigrate and rubbish the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, while also tarnishing the good name, record and excellent performance of the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru. It should therefore be clear to all that Ambassador Ashiru, a thorough professional and a retired career diplomat of distinction, is not in any way, shape or form connected to this case.
The Mission in Washington had stated times and again that it never operated any accounts with Wells Fargo and the Bank of America. Accounts that do not exist could never have been frozen or closed. The Vice President of the M & T Bank, Mr Peter Senica where the Mission maintains some accounts, has stated that at no time were those accounts ever frozen for alleged money laundering activities, contrary to your unrelenting stories.
Besides, it needs to be stated, for information, that the Foreign Minister has no control over budgetary allocations and disbursement of funds to Missions abroad. Once the budget has been approved by the National Assembly and signed into law by the President, the power and responsibility to directly remit funds to Missions overseas are vested in the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Thereafter, Missions administer their budgets as approved by law without reference to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regularly monitors the accounts of Missions and any report of financial irregularities are promptly investigated and dealt with in line with extant regulations and procedure.
The attempt by the authors of the current story to involve the incumbent Foreign Minister in a matter that took place years before he assumed office, is nothing but cheap blackmail that cannot fly. The new Foreign Minister who is a thorough professional has been firm in ensuring that funds remitted to Missions are spent judiciously and as approved by law.
He has done this without fear or favour.
Ag. Director (Public Communication) and Spokesperson
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
28th June 2012