* First Disbarred In US, Troubled Lawyer Emeka Ugwuonye Now Also Disbarred in Nigeria
Emeka Ephraim Ugwuonye, a former United States-based Nigerian lawyer, who was disbarred in New York and Maryland for professional misconduct, was yesterday also disbarred in Nigeria, to which he had relocated, for the same offense.
Harvard trained lawyer, Emeka Ephraim Ugwuonye, was struck off the roll of legal practitioners in Nigeria by the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC). Emeka Ugwuonye was briefed to obtain Letters of Administration for a deceased lady but rather, got one of the deceased person’s properties transferred to himself.
When queried by the petitioner (younger sister of the deceased), his defence was that the deceased had been his fiancée and owed him about $100,000. He did not disclose this to the petitioner at the time of briefing however, until she challenged his conversion of the deceased lady’s assets.
He was once a member of the RoL listserv, and was in fact the first RoLite to unsubscribe from the listserv, when his attention was drawn to the ground rules and asked to moderate his abusive language against RoLite Emeka Ngige SAN and some other RoLites.
Nigeria’s Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) of the Body of Benchers, which punishes misconduct among lawyers, ordered the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to strike out Mr. Ugwuonye’s name. The order followed a case in which he was accused of having failed to disclose his personal interest in a property he was briefed to obtain letters of Administration for, which involved a widow.
Details of the Direction of LPDC will be released in due course. The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) headed by Mr. Joseph Bodunrin Daudu (SAN) at the LPDC found Ugwuonye liable for fraud.
In 2013, the United States District Court in Washington DC, issued a default judgment against Mr. Ugwuonye in a case which he diverted into his personal pockets tax refunds of $1.55 million in a real estate transaction in Washington DC he undertook for the Embassy of Nigeria.
Found liable on all the claims made by the Embassy, the court awarded monetary damages of over $2m against Mr. Ugwuonye, ordering him not only to return the money he had stolen but also to pay interest on it.
In November 2012 in Washington DC, the United States District Judge dismissed a defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit, filed in 2009 by Mr. Ugwuonye against SaharaReporters, for lack of merit. It was one of the several cases he filed, and lost, as he gambled on using the courts in the United States to thwart reporting of his illegal activities.
About seven years ago, he was disbarred by the Attorney Grievance Commission in Maryland for duping clients, and subsequently in New York and Washington DC and New York.
Recall in October 2016 that Mr. Ugwuonye was facing disciplinary action before the LPDC, his name having been on a list published as an advertorial signed by LDPC Secretary H.A. Turaki, and published in The Punch, Thenigerialawyer.
He has 28 days to appeal the ruling of the LPDC.