By News Express on 24/04/2013
Anybody who has some change can set up a website and start reporting “news” and stories, just like Premium Times and SaharaReporters. What they have is just a website. Truth is somewhere else. I am so happy you can see from the following that Premium Times left us with such a clear evidence that its story about me yesterday could not have been the truth. They are simply charlatans, peddling nonsense and passing it off as the truth. But the readers should know better, as follows:
Yesterday, I read this fancy, long and weary story on Premium Times about me and the Embassy of Nigeria and a judgment for me to refund money. They even said it was stolen money. Then in the body of their report, they told incredible stories including the yapping of silly Ambassador Adefuye. You may think the drama ended there. But not so. When I opened my email inbox, I saw the following email from one Mr. Sani Tukur, the publisher of Premium Times. Now read and understand better:
From: Premium Times
Sent: Tue, Apr 23, 2013 2:08 pm
Subject: Questions from PREMIUM TIMES
Dear Mr. Ugwuonye,
We are doing a story about the default judgment entered against your firm, ECU Associates, today. We tried to call you on your number +12024593382 but we got no response.
We hope you would be kind enough to answer the following questions:
1) What do you think of the judgment?
2) The court suggested your firm failed to defend the case. Why was that the case?
3) What do you plan to do about the judgment? Will you just comply or what?
4) We observed that this case has sprung multiple other litigations like the ones you instituted against Bolaji Aluko and Omoyele Sowore/Saharareporters. What are your grouse with this individual who appear to be tangential to your conflict with the embassy?
5) Documents we reviewed suggested you were actually paid for your other services to the embassy. Why are you then withholding N1.55million belonging to the Nigerian people?
6) Are there other facts you want us to know about this and other cases?
My comments here:
(1) Note that Sani Tukur wrote his email to me by 2:08pm on April 23, 2013. His mail said they were doing a story on the case, but in fact, the story was already out by the time he wrote the email. What does that tell you?
(2) His email described the court event as “the default judgment entered against your firm, ECU Associates, today”. But look what he titled his story: “U.S court orders U.S-based lawyer, Emeka Ugwuonye, to refund “stolen” N234Million to Nigeria”. Was it a “default judgment against (my) firm” or judgment ordering “U.S.-based lawyer, Emeka Ugwuonye, to refund “stolen” N234 Million to Nigeria”? Which one? The two accounts cannot be both true. One has to be lie. Did Premium Times lie in their email to me or did they lie in their publication?
(3) Question No. 2 on Mr. Tukur’s email stated: “The court suggested your firm failed to defend the case”. In other words, he knew it was a default judgment because the ECU Associates did not defend the case. Yet, throughout the report by Premium Times, the same Mr. Tukur pretended the judgment was against me based on the merit of the case. So, where did the Ambassador get all those silly childish ideas he was expressing about vindication for him, if indeed it was a default judgment based on ECU Associates failing to defend the case?
(4) It is clear from the foregoing facts that Premium Times knowingly lied to its readers in its report on my case. It is further clear that their story could not have been true. They filed a false report and expected you to read and believe it.
The following was my response to Mr. Tukur’s email:
“Dear Mr. Sani Tukur:
“I am disappointed that you posed intelligent questions in your email here, yet you did not give me chance to answer them before you went ahead to falsely report that Emeka Ugwuonye was ordered to refund “stolen” money.
“It seems clearly that your questions were an afterthought to give a false impression impression of balance in your story. Indeed, while in your question, you rightly indicated that it was a default order against ECU Associates, PC, your article painted an entirely different impression. The glaring gasp between your questions and your report is sufficient evidence of your entrenched bias.
“In retrospect, I am happy you never gave me a chance to respond to your questions because my response would have made no difference to you. You had already made up your mind what to write; either out of malice or incompetence. Also, I would have expected you to respect facts at your disposal. For instance, my case against Sowore was filed nearly two years before the Embassy case came up. Yet, you believe Sowore’s case sprung out of the Embassy case. You didn’t even look at the dates on the court documents that are readily available on the internet. So you really don’t need my help to publish your falsehood.”
Today, Premium Times further wrote to me, trying to explain or justify its position but I maintained that their story was false and they knew it. Though Premium Times encouraged me to write my own side and said they would publish it, I said I believe that such is not healthy where a person writes “his side” and they would publish it regardless of truth. I said I would rather that Premium Times should learn to publish the truth, and not just a side to the truth.
From: Premium Times
To: Ephraim Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire
Sent: Wed, Apr 24, 2013 2:12 am
Subject: Re: Questions from PREMIUM TIMES
Dear Mr. Ugwuonye,
Thank you very much for your response.
I called your number repeatedly yesterday and my determination to hear your side of the story held my story down for hours yesterday. In fact, when I couldn’t reach you, I requested a colleague, who is presently in the U.S. to help contact you. He reported back that your phone was unanswered.
I do not know if you understand how PREMIUM TIMES operates. Perhaps you should ask around, and I’m sure you will realize we hold no malice against anyone. Our job is to report the news and we do it to the best of our ability, and in line with best practices.
Kindly feel free to send across your side of the story and we will publish on our platform.
Below is my response:
From: Ephraim Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire
Sent: Wed, Apr 24, 2013 12:48 pm
Subject: Re: Questions from PREMIUM TIMES
I had a positive impression of Premium Times until yesterday. Whether we spoke or not, you ought to understand how damaging it was for you to report through your heading that I stole money. You knew what you did. You knew that most people would not read beyond your heading. You hedged the word “stolen” in quotation marks, clearly indicating a play on words, but left your readers with the worst impression of me. Then you went on to publish Sowore’s unsubstantiated narration of his alleged discussion with me.
There were so many inaccuracies in your story that could have been corrected just by reviewing my previous postings on the matter or by merely looking up the court records that are easily available. Now, you are creating the impression that not being to reach provided an excuse for you to publish things you ought to have known were false. You knew it was a default judgment, but you never ever wondered how an Ambassador should consider it a decision on the merit questions. You knew that default judgments could be vacated. You knew that the order asked the Embassy to submit an application for damages, meaning that the figures have not been determined. Yet, what you did was to provide my opponents a platform for them to smear me endlessly without any effort on your part (if you were independent) to even suggest that these are disputed claims. This is an orchestrated gang-up. You did it to invite the negative comments against me.
So, it is not what I say about Premium Times that matters. It is the reality that will matter. Now, I can tell you that you haven’t done Premium Times any good. What will happen when and if the default is vacated? What will happen when it becomes clear to the world that your report was intentionally loaded with inaccuracies? Well, maybe you don’t really care about your credibility and the respect readers like me had initially had for you. For the instant glory of appearing to have some breaking news, you were willing to endanger the trust the public might have had on Premium Times. That’s beyond me.
If you are truly honorable, go out and tell the truth. Go out there and say there was no case for stealing and Emeka Ugwuonye did not steal. That is if you are honest and had not been paid for the story you published.
• Ephraim Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire (shown in photo) is President of ECULAW Group, USA.
Source News Express
Posted 24/04/2013 6:23:19 PM
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