Nigerians resident in the United States of America have scheduled a solidarity march next Thursday at the country's embassy in Washington, DC, to protest alleged corruption, money laundering, abuse of power and sundry civil rights violations committed by Ambassador Ade Adefuyi, the country's ambassador to the US.
The protest march, it was gathered, is being organised by a group known as the International Human Rights Monitors (IHRM) in concert with other human rights organisations.
However, our correspondent in New York reports that Ambassador Adefuye has absolved himself and the embassy of involvement in any fraud. Also, embassy officials in Washington DC have denied knowledge of any planned protest.
But Mrs Carol Olubufunmi, who spoke to leadership weekend from the USA, maintained that plans had been concluded for Thursday's march on the Nigerian embassy.
According to a report posted on Republic Reporters website, the executive director of IHRM, Mr. Carl Umunna, speaking on the planned protest said, "It is critical and important that Nigerians from all walks of life see this as an opportunity to show outrage over these corrupt politicians and their criminality, negligence, and failed leadership across all political spectrum of what is called Nigeria."
Speakers at the protests that is scheduled to start at 12.30 pm would include Tino Bendel, Chepper (Occupy Wall Street Activist), Abdi Ega, C.K. Ekeke, and Carl Umunna.
Their eight-point demand includes:
- That Nigerian Ambassador Ade Adefuye resign immediately because he has abused his 'diplomatic immunities, rights, and privileges' and is now a liability and cannot discharge embassy responsibilities effectively and efficiently;
- Immediate overhaul of the embassy in Washington, DC; that the federal government institute an independent panel of inquiry with respect to missing $25 million accrued from real estate sales deposited in M&T Bank, and others, investigate the criminal activities of Ambassador Adefuye, EFCC, on what really happened to the missing funds, including investigation of money laundry allegations;
- That better equipped FBI and CIA be consulted in this investigation since EFCC that President Goodluck Jonathan ordered three weeks ago to investigate embassy scandals.
- That government should overhaul Nigerian embassies around the world, since Nigerian embassies official's operations are one and the same wherever they are located,
- We demand that the government make public Petrol Production and Distribution (PPD) policies directed at 500% local production of petroleum products within a space of 10 months,
- The government audit and make public the Nigerian Washington DC Embassy accounts, and explain what happened to the $25 million accrued from Nigerian real estate sales, 2004, with monthly interest of $350,000 since 2004 to 2012 with accurate embassy inventory, among others.
This is even as a Nigerian business woman resident in the US, Mrs Carol Olubufunmi, has accused Ambassador Adefuye of defrauding her to the tune of $528,000 USD being the cost of her organising a seminar in Washington, DC, which the wife of Vice-President Hajiya Amina Namadi Sambo attended with 30 other Nigerian women.
The seminar which was organised by the Pan African Women Network, owned by Mrs Olubufunmi, according to a statement posted by her counsel, Mr. Emeka Ugwuonye, was hijacked by Ambassador Adefuye and his wife Mrs. Catherine Adesola Adefuye.
It further claimed that, when the vice president's wife returned to Abuja, fund that was transferred to defray the debts to the embassy was seized by the ambassador, which has made it impossible for the said Mrs. Olubufunmi to meet her contractual demands with other persons and groups that assisted her in organizing the event.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Adefuye has reacted to the series of allegations of multiple fraud and money laundering made against him by those he described as "the enemies of Nigeria."
Speaking in an exclusive interview with our correspondent yesterday, the Nigerian envoy said his leadership of the embassy in Washington, DC, has never engaged in any form of fraud, money laundering and ill-treatment on the embassy staff or Nigerians living in the United States.
Denying the allegation made against him by Mrs Olubufunmi that he defrauded her of the total sum of 528,000 US dollars, Ambassador Adefuye said that the whole allegation was false.
Said hed: "The so-called Mrs Olubufunmi did not at any time give me or any staff of the Embassy the said money. What happened was that she organised a fake conference where she invited the wife of the vice president, Mrs Amina Sambo.
She did this without the knowledge of the Embassy. At the end, we found out that all the people she mentioned to the vice-president's wife that would be attending the event did not show up and this made the Embassy take an urgent step in order not to put the wife of the Nigeria's number two citizen in any mess."
Ambassador Adefuye added that the organiser of the event, Mrs Olubufunmi, bypassed the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC as a way she thought she could prevent the authenticity of the event from being verified.
According to Nigeria's envoy, when Mrs Amina Sambo arrived the venue of the "Fake conference" entitled "Pan African Women Network" there was nobody to receive her as the whole hall was empty, stressing that this made the Nigerian Embassy to organise a befitting reception for the second lady in order to avoid a disgrace.
Asked by why he thinks the organizer of the event is accusing him of having duped her the total sum of 528,000 US Dollars, Ambassador Adefuye said that the befitting reception which he ordered the Embassy to organize for Mrs Amina Sambo really got Mrs Olubufunmi angry and this made her start saying that he (the Ambassador) hijacked her event and as well defrauded her.
"I did not even know that a lot of money was involved in the fake conference that she said she organised and I think she wanted the Embassy to refund the expenses she had incurred in the purported conference.
"As a result of this, Mrs Olubufunmi went to Sahara Reporters to start publishing damaging stories about me that I had defrauded her of 528, 000 US Dollars, which she did not give to me or any staff of the embassy."
Speaking on the allegation that he is maltreating staff members of the Embassy, the Ambassador said that he had always maintained an open-door policy since his inception as the head of the mission in 2010.
He also said that it was a lie that he always handed over whoever that had problems with him to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
On this issue, the ambassador said, "I have never handed anybody over to the EFCC in my life. The only person that has problems with the EFCC is one Mr. Ugwuonye who diverted the money that belonged to the Embassy into his own account.
I have no gain in sending any Nigerian to jail but I have made it clear that all I want is that the money should be got from him and returned into the Embassy's account. Apart from this man, no other person can publicly say that I have handed him or her to the police or the EFCC."
On the alleged disappearance of almost 25 million US Dollars realized from the sales of Nigeria's properties in 2004, the ambassador said it was all lies, stressing that he was at the National Assembly two weeks ago to give account of his stewardship.
He added that he was able to present an accurate detail of all the money he met when he got to the Embassy as the ambassador, adding that he also gave Nigeria's lawmakers the details required regarding the running of all the accounts of the Nigerian Embassy between 2010 when he assumed duties and now.
Speaking further, Adefuye said that no amount of protest or allegations would make him resign as the Nigerian ambassador to the United States, stressing that the president that appointed him to head the mission believed in his pedigree before doing so.