- Category: Ephraim Emeka Ugwuonye Esq.
- Published on Monday, 21 May 2012 11:00
- Written by Elombah.com
The US based Lawyer has filed a motion for sanctions against the Embassy of Nigeria. He is asking for $50,000 for every night he was detained in Nigeria last year -
“Dear Judge: I am constrained to bring to the notice of this court the fact that I am
traveling to Nigeria today, May 19, 2012, with plans to return to the United States on May 29, 2012. I am traveling to Nigeria to appear in the Nigerian court....in connection with charges filed against me by Nigerian Government on the same facts as this case. On similar occasions in the past, Nigerian authorities had used the opportunity of my appearance in their court to kidnap, torture and detain me, and then pressure me to give information.... I have reasons to believe that the present trip exposes me to yet more dangers of intimidation and detention, and even worse. ……..”
These were the opening words of the letter Emeka Ugwuonye sent to Honorable Judge Rothstein, the judge hearing the case between him and the Embassy of Nigeria in Washington DC federal court: Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Ephraim Emeka Ugwuonye, et al: Case No. 10-cv-01929. Ugwuonye has argued that his opponents take advantage of his detentions and many travels to Nigeria to try to build superior procedural postures in the case. Hence his unique efforts to keep the court informed of his trips to Nigeria.
Ugwuonye’s letter, which is a matter of public record since it was filed in court over the weekend, is aimed at making sure that the court is aware of the possibility of his being detained again by the EFCC, which has in the past shown intolerance towards Ugwuonye’s outspoken criticisms of its leadership by re-arresting him or attempting to upturn his bail. The letter takes its place among other defensive measures Ugwuonye seems to be mounting against President Jonathan’s administration, which he accuses of being ultimately responsible for the abuses and mistreatment he received in the hands of the EFCC and the SSS last year. In the same letter, Ugwuonye further wrote:
“I am convinced that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration is no much different than his predecessor regimes. The agents of the current Nigeria administration will resort readily to assassination and all manner of intimidation and repression to contain or control those they perceive as threats to their corrupt and inept exercise of power. In the past 4 years, starting with my refusal to participate in their scheme for paying bribes to Nigerian judges in exchange for favorable verdicts, I have become an opportune target for all manner of persecution by the regime.
“As a lawyer who has represented the Nigerian government’s interest in American courts over allegations of assassinations of political opponents, I have no misgivings about the brutality of Jonathan’s government. I am aware that Jonathan’s regime manipulates the justice system in Nigeria and frames opponents with false charges…..”.
Ugwuonye referred to the case of Governor Sylva as one more example of presidential interference in the administration of justice in Nigeria. He goes on to say:
“In my case, they have a motive to kill me and I have been warned by government sources that my life is in grave danger even as I prepared for this round of my trip. When they wanted to prevent me from defending this case, they conveniently kidnapped me and detained me in Nigeria and proceeded to torture me and coerce information calculated to tilt the scale of evidence in this case in their favor. They sponsored a massive media campaign of calumny to discredit and tarnish me to a point of total submission. Now that all their plans to prevent me from defending this case in Washington has failed so far, they appear ready to resort to the ultimate plan of eliminating me. I was reliably informed that some elements of the regime have been instructed to find a permanent solution to the threat that they perceive me to have posed; and this is primarily the fact that I am the only living and willing witness regarding the massive bribing of Nigerian judges in 2008 for President Jonathan (then the Vice President) and his predecessor to be declared the winners of the 2007 elections.”
After explaining in his letter the reasons for him to continue to return to Nigeria, he concluded with the following words: “Even though I have strong and credible fears about my safety in Nigeria, I must continue to return to that enclave to attend trials on the trumped charges they filed against me. If I must lose my life in this process, I am ready to accept that fate. All I want is to make sure that this court is aware of these events.”
Elombah.com can confirm that it has been a two-week period of intense legal fireworks from Ugwuonye. On May 8, 2012, he filed his documents in his case against Sowore Omoyele / Saharareporters, of nearly one thousand pages of legal argument and supporting evidence and affidavit. And just a few days ago, he filed a motion for sanctions against the Embassy of Nigeria. He is asking for $50,000 for every night he was detained in Nigeria last year. He also asks for sanctions against the law firm of Patton Boggs LLP for their collusion and conspiracy in torture and rendition. His argument was simple and uncomplicated: It offends the American judicial system for the Nigerian Government to file a civil lawsuit against him in Washington DC, and then turn around and kidnap him in Nigeria on the same facts as the lawsuit in Washington and deny him the opportunity to defend the suit.
He argues, and many experts tend to agree with him, that a party to a lawsuit cannot waylay the opposite party and hinder him from access to the court in which he has been sued. It would seem that Ugwuonye is set for a serious show down with the Government of Nigeria. The interesting thing here is that it is now in the American court. Jurisdiction is no longer in issue because Nigerian Embassy submitted the Government of Nigeria to jurisdiction, and now the court is free to look into any aspect of the Nigerian Government activities that come into play in this case. Questions would now be asked whether the Nigerian Ambassador in Washington was being smart when he rushed to the American courts to sue Ugwuonye, and to then realize that they would rather not have Ugwuonye speaking against them in American Court. It seems clear that they couldn’t do the two: If America had jurisdiction, they should have stayed in America. But if Nigeria had jurisdiction, then stay in Nigeria. They simply cannot expect to sue Ugwuonye in both places and claim that both places had jurisdiction over the same facts. Was the detention of Ugwuonye in Nigeria an act of rendition or obstruction of justice in Washington? That is the big question now before the court. And Emeka Ugwuonye is free to present any evidence he has in court. He is also free to depose the Nigerian Ambassador and other officials. This may end up a David and Goliath moment.
In the meantime, Ugwuonye is appearing before Justice Belgore’s court today in relation to the charge over the controversial 1.5 million dollars. He got into Lagos last night and spent a night in Lagos. He was to fly to Abuja with an early flight to attend court.
Further Update will be available in Elombah.com.