Teddy Oscar, Abuja
Despite mourning one of its own members, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs will probe the alleged plan to sell N2.754 billion Nigeria House in New York, which serves as the official residence of Nigeria’s permanent representative to the United Nations and the Counsel General.
The House was thrown into mourning at the weekend, following the sad news of its member, Hon. Ralph Nomiye (Labour Party, Ondo State), who was said to have slumped and died in Abuja at the early hours of Saturday.
Following Nimoye’s death, there are indications that the House would suspend Tuesday’s plenary in honour of the late lawmaker, who happens to be the first member to die in the 7th Assembly since its inauguration in June 2011.
But the decision to suspend Tuesday’s plenary would not affect the investigation of the sale of the Nigeria House, which was said to be bought in 1961 by late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, from the famous John Davison Rockefeller family at the sum of $1 million.
The investigative hearing would see Prof Viola Onwuluri, minister of foreign affairs, leading the likes of Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, former Nigeria’s permanent representative to UN; and Ambassador (Dr.) Martins Uhomoibi, ministry of foreign affairs permanent secretary.
According to information form Haruna Zakari, clerk of the committee, also expected to join Onwuluri during the hearing include Prof. Joy Ugwu, Nigeria’s permanent representative to UN; Ambassador Usman Sarki, deputy; Prof. Adebowale Adefuye, Nigeria’s ambassador to the US, Washington DC; Aminu Wali, Nigeria’s ambassador to China and former permanent representative to UN; and Olugbenga Ashiru, former foreign affairs minister.
Recall that the lower chamber had on Tuesday, November 5, alleged that there were plans to sell off the Nigeria House.
Following the notification from a motion raised by Hon. Yakubu Dogara, the House subsequently mandated the committee led by Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje to conduct a public hearing on the matter.
In his motion, Dogara expressed concern that “in a bid to sell off the property very cheaply, an estimated repair bill of N2.754 billion has been prepared so that the government would be discouraged from carrying out the needed repairs and sell off the property.”
The house sits on over 16.6 acres of land and all former Nigerian representatives to UN had lived there.