Posted by Emeka Ugwuonye | 12 June 2013 | 5,693 times
One thing should be clear by now to all those who know me. If any of what Sahara Reporters has written about me in the past 4 years were true, I would not be alive today. I would not be doing the things I am doing now. I would not be operating freely and indeed directing a lot of things that I am directing. So, even a child would have figured that Sahara Reporters stories about me are baseless and without foundation. Indeed, many are beginning to see me as the star of Sahara Reporters and its raison-d’etre. Without me, that website might not be in existence by now.
My appeal to the people of Nigeria continues to grow. My ability to question the pervasive abuse of power in Nigeria is being well received by the ordinary Nigerians. Wherever I go now, there is one trader or one commercial bike rider or one civil servant or more who upon hearing my name would turn around and ask: “Are you the Mr. Ugwuonye that we have heard about? And upon confirmation, the person would say further: “Thank you, Sir. Keep up the good work. And God remain with you”. With such a widening appeal, a desperate website like Sahara Reporters would like to spread rumors about me in the hope that more people would read their website just because my name is mentioned in it.
Take, for instance, their daft reporting today about the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia making a ruling against me. Anyone who read that, if not well informed, would believe that something bad had happened to me. But that’s not true at all.
The truth of the matter that has been so badly misreported by Sahara Reporters is this: Last three weeks, right from here in Lagos, I filed a Notice of Appeal on one of the cases between me and the Embassy of Nigeria. The Notice of Appeal was filed at the Federal District Court. From there it got transmitted of the Court of Appeals for that particular District Court. For me to pursue the appeal, like any other lawyer, I would have to pay, in cash or cheque, the sum of $226 and fill out a particular form.
That I would have done within a week of filing my appeal if I were not in Nigeria at the moment. But because I am still in Nigeria, I have not done that. A lawyer is not allowed to argue an appeal until he has filled that form and paid his membership fee of $226.
I just finished speaking with the office of the Clerk of the Court of Appeals and the case manager. What the Court did was to indicate the obvious – that I would not pursue the appeal as counsel until I had paid the membership fee that was due and filled out the relevant form. And that I would do immediately upon returning to the US next week.
Otherwise, in America, no lawyer is automatically admitted to practice law in all the federal courts such as court of appeals. I am admitted only in those courts where I have had cases and where I wanted to be admitted. I am admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States. I am admitted also to Court of Appeals sitting in Chicago, Illinois. I am admitted to the Court of Appeals sitting in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am admitted to Court of Appeals sitting in Michigan, Virginia, which oversees the Maryland jurisdiction where I am principally based. I am admitted in more courts than most American lawyers. Yet, Sahara Reporters would mislead some unsuspecting Nigerian readers with some fantastic stories about Emeka Ugwuonye and qualification to practise law in America.
Many have wondered why Sahara Reporters is obsessed with me. The answer lies in what happened between me, as a lawyer, and Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters in 2008. He had been blackmailing people and extorting money from them with threats of publishing false stories about them and their families, if not paid. Those people came to me for help in dealing with Sahara Reporters menace. I confronted Sahara Reporters and they turned against me. But I refused to be intimidated with blackmails. Omoyele Sowore and Sahara Reporters, unknown to Nigerians, are a big criminal gang. They make money by threatening to write against people and forcing those people to pay them money in order for them not to write against them. The truth, unknown to people, is that Sahara Reporters has been far more corrupt than the government officials they report about. That truth is gradually coming out and Nigerians are getting to know what these boys are doing – stealing and blacking people who don’t want their names to be tarnished. Omoyele Sowore is just a thug and a petty thief, who now tells Nigerians that he is against corruption. I will catch them and I will teach them a lesson they would never forget.
•Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire, whose photo appears alongside this piece, is a US-based lawyer.
No comments yet. Be the first to post comment.