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I’LL CRUSH MY ENEMIES —Emeka Ugwuonye •US-based lawyer clarifies court verdict, vows to claim victory in $1.5m Embassy fee dispute

By News Express on 23/05/2013

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United States-based Nigerian lawyer, Emeka Ugwuonye, has vowed to fight on till he triumphs in his long-drawn fee dispute with his country’s Embassy in the US.

He made the vow in a statement clarifying Tuesday’s ruling against him by a Washington DC court, explaining that it was a default judgement and nothing to worry about.

As for those out for his downfall, Ugwuonye had this message: “Tomorrow shall be another day and I shall fight my enemies everywhere I see them. If they hide in the corner, I will strike them there. If they run, I shall chase them until they are out of breadth. If they ask for mercy, I shall show them none. I shall not relent or waver until justice is done.”

Below is the text of Ugwuonye’s statement entitled “Emeka Ugwuonye’s Reaction to Recent Development”:

Yesterday, there was yet again some development in my fight against certain officials of Nigerian Government. The particular event in question was a default judgment in the Washington DC Case between me and the Embassy of Nigeria. A default judgment is what happens when, for whatever reason, a party to a lawsuit (defendant) fails to defend a case. In such a situation, the court would enter default him. When a default occurred, the party against whom it occurred may come to court and show he is ready to proceed on the merit and request the court to vacate the default and continue the case toward a merit resolution. But he must be able to cure the default.

But the party against whom the default has been entered may as well proceed on appeal, especially if the circumstances of the default were not as a result of fault he could acknowledge. Many cases in which I have represented the Nigerian Government in America resulted in some default, usually because the Nigerian officials refused to pursue it in a timely manner. But in all of such cases, the default was vacated. In one particular case in New York, a default judgement was entered against the Nigerian Government in 2004 for a claim of 50 million dollars. I vacated that default judgment and got the case reinstated and ultimately settled with the Nigerian Government paying only about $650,000, instead of 50 million.

The case between me and the Nigerian Embassy in Washington was merely a dispute over my professional fees. In one transaction, the Government, through the Embassy was entitled to a tax refund of 1.55 million dollars. But at the time, the Government was owing my law firm millions of dollars for services rendered in other matters. For the tax-refund transaction, our fee was about $77,000. However, over 3 million dollars of fees were outstanding for services rendered to the Government in other cases we handled for them. It was agreed that the 1.55 million dollar tax refund would be applied toward the $77,000 and other fees owed by the Government of Nigeria to my firm for other services rendered.

After we applied the 1.55 million to our fees, the Embassy officials had a disagreement with us and they changed their minds and decided that we should return the 1.55 million to them and seek to collect our outstanding fees directly from Abuja. We disagreed over that, especially because the money had been disbursed according to the original agreement. And all this happened in December of 2007, not last month as most uninformed readers of Sahara Reporters would think.

While the Embassy and my firm were still exploring ways to resolve the matter, a number of events occurred in the Embassy. An Ambassador was removed. Sowore Omoyele, the publisher of Sahara Reporters, saw this disagreement over fees as a way to get at me for the fact that I had been after him for blackmailing some clients of mine in Nigeria. So, Sahara Reporters falsely accused me of stealing 1.55 million dollars from the Embassy. This was absolute fallacy. There was no stealing at all. There was never even a suspicion of crime. This was just an honest disagreement over fees. I sued Sowore and Sahara Reporters for defamation. This forced even a closer alliance between the hawks in the Embassy and Sahara Reporters against me.

In suing Sahara Reporters for defamation, I had underestimated one thing. I did not realize that through the trade of blackmails and scandals, Sowore and his Sahara Reporters had gained controlling influence over some officials of the Nigerian Government. He could obtain money from them and in exchange refrain from publishing damaging stories about them. I did not know that he could also obtain favors from them instead of money. This became clear to me when Sowore was freely able to blackmail Farida Waziri and Femi Babafemi of the EFCC into a deal that led to the illegal sharing of information about me at the disposal of the EFCC, and in the various plots to delay my release from detention. Faced with such blatant corruption of the criminal justice system, I knew that as a matter of principle, I would fight Sahara Reporters and its corrupt league.

MY VICTORIES SO FAR: When in February of 2011, Farida Waziri and her gang of the corrupt that led the EFCC then arrested and detained me in Nigeria, they calculated that such would be the end of me. I would either be killed if I made trouble or I would be so subdued that I would spend the rest of my life like most Nigerian had-beens in ignominy and bitterness as a failed star. They first set out to destroy my names. Femi Babafemi would hold a conference with Sowore about my case and would orchestrate maneuvers to create facts and scenarios to be used in attacking me. They set out to blackmail my clients and staff. They set to break my family and managed to exploit the fragile health conditions of my sister in California. They set out to disrupt my law practice, just by sheer brigandage and brute lawlessness. But, they failed to get the outcome they had set out for.

Today, I am a credible opponent to the brutal regime called Nigerian Government. I am a credible opponent to the abuse of power so rampant in this county. I am a credible crusader for justice. You don’t need to take my words – just look at the so many cases in the Nigerian courts where I am challenging various actions of abuse of power. In today’s case alone, I was able to obtain a favorable bail decision for a young man falsely detained and prosecuted for dating a woman older than he. And all this became possible because my detention by the EFCC exposed me to the conditions of many Nigerians who have been victims of power abuse. I became their spokesperson. Rather than destroy my law practice, I am presently building what is going to be the biggest virtual law practice group in the world, which is actually the future of law practice. From the ashes of the old me has emerged a new force greater than all that has existed. When I came out of the detention the first time, in June of 2011, one lady on the camp of my enemies, who was so intoxicated with what she perceived to be the destruction of me boasted on the internet that I was going to become an emotional pit hole. I still remember that boast and I knew how badly my enemies had miscalculated.

Secondly, even from the judgments that the Embassy is presently celebrating has some victories for me. For instance, the Embassy claimed in court that I was not entitled even to a penny out of the 1.55 million dollars. They claim that the work I did in obtaining the tax refund for them was never necessary and that it was an orchestrated fraud to pocket the entire money. Indeed, the Ambassador recently said that I allowed the tax to be withheld because I failed to file the right paperwork during the main transaction. But the fact that even the judgment of a case in which I did not fully defend myself came back to say I was entitled to the $77,000 meant that the court agreed that I rendered genuine service in respect of the tax refund. It was not an orchestrated fraud as the Embassy had claimed all this while, which led them to the absurd idea of arresting and charging me with criminal offences in Nigeria.

Thirdly, for every discerning mind, my fight with Sahara Reporters has ultimately destroyed that organization and shown it for what it is. It is nothing other than a tabloid controlled by one man and used for the pursuit of the personal greed and ambitions of that one man. The fact that Sahara Reporters has fixated on me so blindingly since the past 4 years and has reported negatively on everything about me, including when I fart, meant that organization lacked the kind of sound internal organizational management and quality control that would have separated the personal ambitions of its founder and the legitimate purpose of any credible news organization. Even my dog has greater independence from me than Sahara Reporters has from its founder. Who on earth would ever take a news organization that does nothing but massage the egos of its founder seriously? In other words, Sahara Reporters news reporting could be used to win the attention of a girl that Sowore is interested in pursuing for romance. That is to show you how miserable Sahara Reporters really is. And all this came out in the fight between me and them. And that fight is nowhere near the end. Sowore’s connivance with EFCC during my detention amounts to participation in torture. Also, his present misrepresentation of the decision of the DC civil case amounts to fresh defamation.

Fourthly, I still have several pending and future cases against the Embassy of Nigeria. In fact, I am now planning to reinstate my case against the Ambassador for torture. This time, there will be no issues of service of process on the Ambassador. I will either vacate or appeal the default judgments. I am confident that the judgments will be set aside on appeal. I believe the judgment was wrong. As a lawyer, I know when and where the trial court derailed. The good thing about America is that even a judge is not the law onto herself. Nobody is above the law there, unlike what we see here in Nigeria.

Also, we shall now settle down and capture all these things that have happened and work them into the fundamental rights enforcement lawsuit pending in Nigeria, in which I am seeking for N1b in damages.

I am confident also that the two remaining criminal cases they have against me in Abuja will be dismissed soon. So, in the end, my enemies will fail and I shall be victorious and totally vindicated.

Anybody who is familiar with the legal process should know that there has really been no victory for the Embassy of Nigeria in all these strivings. Indeed, there is yet one more victory that I have not mentioned. They did not succeed in cutting off my bigger claim on the basis of time bar. That case will be reinstated shortly.

Finally, Sahara Reporters told its readers that Emeka Ugwuonye’s law firm had all but folded and that he had relocated to Nigeria. That reflects extraordinary short-sightedness. My law practice has been transformed into something extraordinary. It is now going truly global. I am happy to have the opportunity to pursue an idea that has engaged the most intimate recesses of my mind since my days at Harvard Law School - how to use the law to better the world.

Make no mistake about it. This is not to suggest that I have not suffered as a result of the events of the past 4 years. In truth, I have borne the kind of hardship that I would not wish on my worst enemies. I have endured pain and suffering. I have withstood thunder and brimstone. I have faced dangers of immense proportions. I have faced the risk and plots of assassination while in detention. I have suffered unimaginable disruptions in my work and family life. But I am stronger today than at the beginning. God stood with me all this while. I am so grateful to many, starting with my children, M & M, for their extraordinary courage and understanding, and stretching to many many friends who have stood by me and who understood that all this was just a campaign of calumny against a man who refused to run out of fear. To, all these friends, I shall say thank you. Tomorrow shall be another day and I shall fight my enemies everywhere I see them. If they hide in the corner, I will strike them there. If they run, I shall chase them until they are out of breadth. If they ask for mercy, I shall show them none. I shall not relent or waver until justice is done.

Photo shows Ugwuonye.

Source News Express

Posted 23/05/2013 1:57:23 PM

 

 

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