Posted by News Express | 14 July 2013 | 4,503 times
A key witness in the on-going investigation by the Nigerian Senate into the alleged $27 million scam at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington has accused Ambassador Adebowale Adefuye of seeking to divert attention from the case by playing up the fee dispute between him and the embassy.
In a statement which he released last night in Lagos, US-based lawyer and activist Emeka Ugwuonye said there was nothing to celebrate in the US court judgement ordering him to refund the embassy’s money withheld by him since the embassy owed him more than the said sum. Ugwuonye described the default judgement as procedural and said he would take steps to vacate it.
On why he had not been defending himself in the case, Ugwuonye said it made more sense to first concentrate on his cases with the Nigerian government than on a civil case in America. Below is the text of the statement:
THE CASE AGAINST EMBASSY OF NIGERIA WASHINGTON:
A friend just called me and told me he read on my enemy’s website, i.e. Sahara Reporters that the District Court in Washington DC had made an order awarding damages in the amount of 2 million dollars to the Embassy of Nigeria after yesterday’s damage hearing. The friend asked for my reaction.
I have not seen any order by the court, though we are all expecting an order sooner than later. Until I have had the opportunity to review the docket in the case and appraise myself of any such order, I shall have no reaction except this preliminary comment:
(1) This civil case between me and the Embassy of Nigeria in Washington was filed in November of 2010 by Ambassador Adefuye, who was determined to divert attention from the 27 million dollars he and others were then in the process of embezzling.
(2) I was so ready to meet them in court and to defeat them there. So, on December 6, 2010, I filed my first ever document of defense in court. I was really happy to face them in any legal battle.
(3) Unknown to me then, Ambassador Adefuye had been plotting with his friends in Nigeria on how to detain me in Nigeria to prevent me from defending the case they just filed in Washington against me. Still unknown to me, on December 4, 2010, Ambassador Adefuye sent an email to Mrs. Farida Waziri with a direct instruction that I be detained in Nigeria so that they would have a chance of winning the civil case in Washington. That email is now public.
(4) I was detained in Nigeria and every effort was made to stop me from defending the case in Washington, including the fact that I was charged criminally to court in Nigeria over the same matter.
(5) The Embassy, with so much cash and the Nigeria’s petro-dollar to play with, hired one of the biggest law firms in American against me. I was not frightened at all because I knew that if given the chance to defend the case, I would easily defeat any law firm on the matter.
(6) However, with the intrigues by the Ambassador and those who shared in the 27 million dollars I was detained me in Nigeria as from February 13, 2011. I was subsequently charged with multiple criminal offenses in Nigerian with a plan to keep me in Nigeria for years. I was immediately placed in a precarious position. A faced the tough choice between defending against criminal cases in Nigeria and defending against civil case in the US. It should be obvious what I should do in the circumstance. I had to pay more attention to the criminal cases as a matter of compelling necessity.
(7) My presence in Nigeria meant my absence from Washington. Attending to Nigerian cases meant not attending to the Washington civil case. Even a child could figure that out.
(8) A civil case will never be more important than a criminal case. I had to win the criminal cases in Nigeria therefore. It was either for me to flee from Nigeria, as Nuhu Ribadu and Nasir el Rufai did when they were charged to court criminally in Nigeria. I did not want to run away from Nigeria because unlike these other gentlemen I might not be allowed to return in the future. And having decided to fight and die in Nigeria, if need be, I had to stay to fight against the criminal charges. I have won one of the criminal cases against me. I expect to win the second one soon. And the EFCC has abandoned the third one, as they don’t come to court anymore.
(9) The implication of my spending time in Nigeria on these cases and less time in Washington was that the Embassy and its lawyers were having a field day in my absence. It was like playing a no-show against your opponent.
(10) That was how the issue of default judgment came about. The judge had an option – to stay the proceedings as a mark of respect for Nigeria to allow the cases here to go forward or the judge might just proceed as if nothing was happening here. It seemed that the judge chose the second option.
(11) I am a lawyer and I understand this process very well. The judge has to get the case out of her hand one way or the other. One such way is to make the rulings that have been made so far. In law, we all have options and the next steps. If it is true that the judge has made orders awarding damages to the Embassy of Nigeria, then I must say that I can’t wait to get to the next step in this business.
(12) I predicted that I would prevail over the Embassy and the Nigerian Government in these cases in the end. I remain confident of that. I shall prevail in the long run. For those who cared to know, I have repeatedly said: Patience, patience: keep your eyes on the ball and follow it as it goes. What the Embassy in partnership with their paid news websites has celebrated as victory is no victory at all. It is only propaganda.
(13) Now, let me tell you what is victory:
(a) I was locked up in detention for 5 months in Nigeria, which they had wanted to last for years. They failed. That is my victory.
(b) Ambassador Adefuye and Mrs. Farida Waziri conspired to kill me by food poisoning while I was in detention. I am still alive. That is my victory.
(c) Ambassador Adefuye hoped that they would succeed in using this multiplicity of cases to confuse the world and cover the fact that 27 million dollars I handed over to them had disappeared into the thin air. But soon, I will be appearing before the Nigerian Senate to testify about that money. In a way, that is victory for the Nigerian people.
(d) They had planned to use a case at the Lagos High Court to put me in prison. The court threw away their case. That is victory for me.
(14) I can go on and on to list the victories that I have won in my battle against injustice. I look forward to appealing against any judgment that was entered against me in Washington.
(15) Now, one more thing: Despite the false and incendiary reports that the Ambassador sponsored against me through the rogue websites and news magazines on his pay roll, the case in Washington is a civil case. There was no element of criminality in it. In fact, the case is simply the type of case you have when you sue your mechanic for not repairing your car well or he sues you for not paying for his services. It is the same type of case you have when there is a breach of contract. There is no element of criminality. So, those who tell you that Emeka Ugwuonye was convicted of any thing or that Emeka Ugwuonye “stole” money are plain idiots paid to lie to you.
(16) I shall continue to use this medium to keep you informed of progress in these matters. For those who support me and wish me well, I would tell you not lose sleep at all. We shall prevail. All I have asked the Government to do was to play it fair and avoid the use of assassination or unlawful detentions to achieve victory they would otherwise not achieve. Let them be good sportsmen and play fair and in accordance with the law.
•Photo shows Ambassador Adefuye.
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