Emeka Ugwuonye, a lawyer who used to be based in Maryland, United States, faces possible disciplinary action by the Nigerian Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (NLPDC). The committee, which oversees the disciplining of errant Nigerian lawyers, has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 for the adoption of written addresses.
Our correspondent reported that Mr. Ugwuonye’s name was listed in a newspaper advertorial signed by Ms. H.A. Turaki, the committee’s secretary. The advert, published in Punch newspaper, is attached to this report.
In addition to his latest troubles in Nigeria, Mr. Ugwuonye is also likely to face disciplinary proceedings by the Washington, DC Bar. SaharaReporters learned that the DC Bar is on the cusp of commencing a trial of Mr. Ugwuonye over longstanding allegations against him related to funds he stole from the Nigerian Embassy in the US. This website broke the news that Mr. Ugwuonye had illegally pocketed more than $1.5 million he collected from the US government on behalf of the Nigerian Embassy.
Our investigations revealed that disciplinary authorities in the D.C Bar had corresponded with Mr. Ugwuonye about scheduling an investigation of his actions when he handled legal aspects of the sale of real estate once owned by Nigeria. In response to the issue, Mr. Ugwuonye reportedly claimed that he was “under severe travel restrictions” from the Nigerian government due to criminal trials he has been battling since 2011.
However, a Nigerian government source told SaharaReporters that there was no truth to the controversial lawyer’s claims that travel restrictions had been placed on him. “It sounds like his old trick all over again. When in the US, he would claim he has to be in Nigeria for [a] trial, but then when he gets to Nigeria, he would then claim that he needs to be in the US to handle a matter,” said the source.
Since Mr. Ugwuonye was ordered to refund over $1.55million he stole from the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, DC, he has tried to file for bankruptcy in an effort to evade refunding the money as ordered by a US District judge. However, a US court threw out his application for bankruptcy.
Recently, Mr. Ugwuonye caused an online furor when he asked members of a phony Internet group he set up to contribute to a “defense fund” for cases he was ostensibly handling. However, many members of the group revolted when they realized that the money they were being asked to contribute might end up in Mr. Ugwuonye’s private account.
Mr. Ugwuonye had sued SaharaReporters for reporting on his questionable pocketing of funds he was meant to transfer to the Nigerian Embassy in the US, but he lost the case as well as appeals. Meanwhile, a US Judge sided with the embassy in a lawsuit it filed seeking an order to compel Mr. Ugwuonye to return the money he stole. The judge not only ordered the controversial lawyer to return the funds but also ruled that Mr. Ugwuonye pay interest on the funds he embezzled.
In 2008 Ugwuonye was disbarred by the Attorney Grievance Commission in Maryland, also he was found guilty of misappropriating client funds, and also reciprocally disbarred in DC and New York, a quick check on his status in Maryland shows that he is currently under temporary suspension.