Posted by Emeka Ugwuonye | 5 August 2013 | 6,422 times
In the period that I have been out of the United States, a number of things have occurred that need to be addressed quickly. The dispute between the Nigerian Ambassador to Washington and me has deepened without any hope of an amicable resolution at this point. It was indeed a personal dispute, driven by personal sentiments and ill feelings on the part of the Ambassador Adebowale Adefuye. However, by virtue of his position as an Ambassador and head of Nigerian mission to the United States, even his personal disputes became the dispute of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Right from the beginning, that dispute has been played out simultaneously in the United States and Nigeria, thus forcing me to fight in the two countries at once. Even at that, I have not been entirely at liberty to move as frequently and as freely as I would love to, all due to the tactics the Ambassador and his friends in the government of Nigeria have used against me.
A key part of the Ambassador’s efforts against me is a well-orchestrated and coordinated propaganda machine, involving some online news websites paid to smear me and to hinder my ability to fight back. They sought to achieve this by weighing me down and forcing me to defend several false and unsubstantiated allegations. While you have these news websites at the top of that campaign, you also have the foot soldiers in the Internet chatrooms and their Facebook groups who have held a shouting match over me against anyone that is perceived to be sympathetic to my cause. In the pettiness of the minds of my enemies in this fantasy warfare, they have celebrated every perceived misfortune that I had endured. Even some of them that previously claimed to be human rights activists were so eager to allow an exception in the violation of the rights of Emeka Ugwuonye. They celebrated my illegal detentions. They celebrated the unlawful disruption of my law practice and my family life. Some of them even urged that I be killed extra-judicially.
From the tone and texture of the views of many on the side of Ambassador Adefuye, it is clear that when people feel you have succeeded better than they have, it is in their nature to try to pull you down at all cost and to destroy you. If ever there would be a regret on my part, it is going to be the fact that I should have guarded myself better and trusted the Nigerian Government less. This personal obsession with pulling him down on the part of my enemies was the reason they found my arrest and detention in Nigeria in February 2011 more historic than the collapse of Mubarak’s regime, which occurred contemporaneously. And for the same reason, they find the default judgment against me more historic event than the criminal conviction of Berlusconi.
As I have maintained from day one, much of what has been said and done by my opponents were based on ignorance and deliberate misinformation. I did not do anything wrong. Nigerian Government and its Embassy owed me over double the amount in dispute. The Embassy initially agreed to the application of the 1.5 million dollars against those fees. The Embassy understood I would have a good defence on the merits if I were allowed to defend the case it filed against me in America. So, they had me arrested in Nigeria and placed on trial in Nigeria at the same time they were pursuing civil damages against me in America. In the process, not only did they disrupt my access to the American courts, they also disrupted my practice of law, thereby triggering turbulence in my personal and professional life. They simply rigged the entire process. Normal people should never celebrate a victory obtained by rigging.
Having said that, I would like to say to my friends that they should never worry at all about me. First, I am confident that what my opponents celebrate as victory today is only a pyrrhic victory. It only shows how desperate they are to claim victory. With all the resources and coordination at their disposal, it is really a shame that they could only obtain a temporary victory based on rigging of the process. Also, as regards the further battles they have set out for against me, including particularly, their five-year-old quest to obtain a disciplinary sanction from the bar, they have also shown a failure to understand the reality. Shortly after I began to work for Nigerian Government, it was clear to me that I was at a dinner table with the Devil. I ultimately got to the point where I began to sharpen my table fork and knife for self-defence.
I am happy that from all that I have read, my opponents continue to misunderstand me. They also continue to misunderstand my options. In the metaphor I just gave, the Devil actually planned to make me a menu for the dinner. At some point, I fought my way out of that dining room into the streets beyond the reach of the Devil. And some ignorant cheerleader sees me running and shouts at me saying: “Oh, he has been driven from the dinner table. Oh, he is not going to have dinner tonight. Oh, he is going to starve now.” Yet, in the mean time, I have fought my way out of the dinner gathering of the Devils, in which I was on the menu. This wrong position has been displayed by two sets of people – those like Sahara Reporters that want to claim victory by default and those who are totally ignorant.
What they have celebrated as Emeka Ugwuonye’s professional demise is a total mischaracterisation of the process of rebirth that I have been going through for sometime now. We must remember that at some point in this struggle, I was only moments and inches away from death. Even today, I remain in danger. I have been forced to spend a lot of time in Nigeria meeting my enemies in the streets and courthouses each day. And this is a country where people still use assassination to settle scores. If the assassination of an Attorney General meant nothing to this country, the assassination of one lawyer would obviously not mean much. My being alive today is therefore a victory against my enemies.
Yes, it has been a rebirth. Difficult as it might have been, it has been a rebirth nonetheless. I thank my supporters and I urge them to remain focused on the key issues involved and to be optimistic of the future. In circumstances like this, rumors abound. But it is for the wise person to think deeply. What the opponents celebrate as their victory is actually my victory. Indeed, I will be making further announcements as to my future plans and the world would see that I have been innovating even in the midst of crisis and chaos. God bless.
•Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire, whose photo appears alongside this piece, is an international lawyer practising in the US and Nigeria.
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