Facing Criminal Fraud Charges, Notorious Nigerian Pastor Drops Civil Suit Against SaharaReporters

Deeper Life Pastor, Eric Abakporo
By SaharaReporters, New York

Facing serious federal criminal charges of fraud in a U.S. court, the Pentacostal Deeper Life Pastor Eric Abakporo suddenly abandoned his $30 million libel suit against SaharaReporters for its coverage in 2010 of a petition that implicated Mr. Abakporo in alleged corruption—unrelated to the pending criminal charges—within the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

Mr. Abakporo filed the lawsuit in a New York State Court in Brooklyn claiming that SaharaReporters defamed him in a series of reports on the petition, which alleged corruption by the Nigerian ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Joy Ogwu, and other Nigerian Mission staff in their handling of renovation projects at the Mission and its living quarters . The petition alleged that a company called St. Cyprian Properties was Ambassador Ogwu’s “front for fraud” and had benefitted from the questionable renovation projects. Real estate records identify Mr. Abakporo as the “President” of St. Cyprian, although Mr. Abakporo disclaimed any interest in St. Cyprian in his lawsuit against SaharaReporters.

Mr. Abakporo also claimed he was libeled when SaharaReporters cited an article published by the New York Daily News that named him in the alleged scamming of an elderly African-American woman out of her apartment building in Harlem. . SaharaReporters aggressively defended itself against the libel charges with help from the Media Legal Defence Initiative(MLDI) in the UK, which found pro bono assistance for SaharaReporters  through the Manhattan office of law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. Mr. Abakporo’s lawsuit, which was transferred to federal court in Brooklyn, ultimately crumbled in the face of aggressive inquiry on the part of SaharaReporters.

Mr. Abakporo’s claims took what turned out to be a devastating hit in May when the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and the New York State Attorney General announced the arrests of  Mr. Abakporo and an alleged accomplice, Latanya Pierce, and charged them with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, as well as one substantive count of bank and wire fraud, in connection with the allegedly fraudulent real estate transaction in Harlem. Mr. Abakporo was briefly detained and granted bail. He has pleaded not guilty. His trial has not yet been scheduled.

In the libel case against SaharaReporters, after Mr. Abakporo conspicuously missed several deadlines to provide documents in court ordered discovery, he was ordered by a Magistrate Judge to pay fines. The Magistrate Judge had also indicated his intent to recommend that St. Cyprian be held in contempt of court for failure to comply with a subpoena. But Mr. Abakporo suddenly tendered a letter requesting permission to voluntarily dismiss his libel case against SaharaReporters, claiming his lawyers advised him that continuing the libel lawsuit could jeopardize his constitutional rights in the criminal fraud case.

As plausible as that excuse might sound, one wonders whether that is the whole story behind Mr. Abakporo’s capitulation. SaharaReporters, through its lawyers, was pushing hard to establishMr. Abakporo’s connection to St. Cyprian, which the petition alleged benefitted with approximately $675,000 from the Nigerian Permanent Mission renovation projects. A document tendered in court by SaharaReporters showed that Mr. Abakporo had signed documents in an unrelated real estate transaction on behalf of St. Cyprian as its President. Mr. Abakporo claimed that for purposes of this single transaction only, he was merely acting on behalf of St. Cyprian’s true president, and that he otherwise had no involvement with the company beyond services provided for the transaction. The transaction was the acquisition by St. Cyprian of the very building that houses Mr. Abakporo’s law offices. Yet, while denying that he was President of St. Cyprian, Mr. Abakporo refused to identify the real President of St. Cyprian. Indeed, Mr. Abakporo refused to identify any of St. Cyprian’s officers, directors or owners.

Also, St. Cyprian’s certificate of incorporation showed that the company is  located at a property in Queens owned by Mr. Abakporo’s brother, and the certificate was filed by one Emmanuella Agwu from the same address as Mr. Abakporo’s law office.
 

Mr. Abakporo failed to show up in court at the last three public hearings in the libel case. He claimed to have been in Nigeria on the first two dates and, on one occasion, a lawyer friend, Chidi Eze (who represents Latanya Pierce in her own libel lawsuit against the Daily News) was there for Abakporo. Mr. Eze informed the Magistrate that he was not appearing as Abakporo’s official attorney of record.
 
On a more dramatic note on May 4th 2012 just days after Mr. Abakporo’s arrest, the court held a hearing relating to St. Cyprian’s longstanding failure to produce requested documents regarding its relationship with Mr. Abakporo and the Nigerian Mission.  At this hearing, Emmanuella Agwu (the person listed as having filed St. Cyprian’s certificate of incorporation) appeared in court. Although Ms. Agwu is a lawyer, she informed the judge that she was not representing St. Cyprian and was not an officer of St. Cyprian. Instead, she told the judge that she had come to let him know that the current president of St. Cyprian, an individual she claimed was named “Bernard”, had asked her to inform the court that he was in Nigeria and did not know when he would be able to appear in court to answer to the contempt citation threatened against St. Cyprian. But SaharaReporters lawyers reminded the court that it was Ms. Agwu who had registered the company from the same address as Mr. Abakporo’s law office. Ms. Agwu then said she did not recall whether she had filed St. Cyprian’s certificate of incorporation. She also denied knowing  “Bernard” personally or anything about St. Cyprian’s business.

Since no actual authorized St. Cyprian representative ever bothered to appear in court, as required, the Magistrate Judge stated that he would recommend that St. Cyprian be held in contempt of court for its failure to so appear and for its failure to comply with SaharaReporters’ subpoena requesting documents. With St. Cyprian’s contempt citation apparently imminent, Mr. Abakporo suddenly requested to discontinue his lawsuit in a letter written to the court on May 17, 2012. The U.S. District Judge overseeing the case then struck down and closed the case file within 24 hours.

Mr. Abakporo’s now-dismissed suit is the second of such libel lawsuits intended to harass and intimidate SaharaReporters that has been disposed of in the US district courts, the first being a suit filed by Paul Orhii in Texas before he was rewarded with the position of the director general of NAFDAC by the Yar’adua regime.

Emeka UgwuonyeA Maryland-based Nigerian lawyer, Emeka Uguonye, initially under the prodding of the Yar’adua regime, filed a third libel case.

The case was prompted by an expose written by SaharaReporters on the handling of real estate transactions involving the sale of several properties owned by the Nigerian government in the Washington DC area, Mr. Ugwuonye filed a rash of libel suits against SaharaReporters and several Nigerians who actively debated the issue on the internet. Part of the purpose of the lawsuit was to shut down SaharaReporters by suing the domain name registrant and protection service, Godaddy, and Domain by Proxy.
 
However, after securing Domain by Proxy to tactically release the addresses of SaharaReporters publisher to him, Mr. Ugwuonye quickly published on the internet and let Domain by Proxy off the lawsuit.

Several years later and after several delays occasioned by delayed prosecution of the case through several excuses on his part, the case has progressed to the advance stage, after both parties undertook deposition and document discovery.
 
SaharaReporters has filed a motion for summary judgment before the judge handling the case and awaits a decision. However, characteristically Mr. Ugwuonye has widened his conspiracy against the website  and its operators by courting corrupt Nigerian politicians in his quest to silence the site as he no longer enjoys the confidence of his former clients, the Nigerian government which has arrested and charged him with criminal offences in Nigeria and filed bar complaints and a civil lawsuit against him before a US district court in Washington DC.

To stave off the revelation of his professional and legal troubles, Mr. Ugwuonye regularly publishes series of reports penned by him to paint himself as a human rights activist being persecuted by the Nigerian government. In court filings, at different times  he also claims our team picks on him because of his ethnicity.
 
Before his current legal troubles, Ugwuonye represented former Nigerian dictator Abdusalam Abubakar before a US district judge in Michigan and Chicago. While at it Mr. Ugwuonye described the Nigerian judiciary as perfectly sufficient to handle all human rights cases and for his services, the Nigerian government settled the case and paid Emeka $700,000 on behalf of Mr. Abubakar.

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aVlOhnwskZfs

Thanks so much for the memorial. I'm not ssrpriued at all that it was merely glanced over by Nigerians. I've long accepted that our Nigerian writers are celebrated more abroad than at home. Cyprian Ekenswi's The passport of Malam Ilia' was one of the first literature books I read and almost 20 yrs later I vividly remember the book and even the illustrations in it! How can one forget The Drummer Boy', Jagua Nana' or Jagua Nana's Daughter'? Yes, he'll be remembered, maybe not by all but certainly by all those that read his captivating books that are printed forever in our memories.

Tanx manillow, I think most

Tanx manillow, I think most of us are blinded by "faiths"

let's be thankful

Honestly speaking any right thinking nigeria should be thankful to this social media information station SR cause the station has really helped open a lot of hidden fraud both in 9ja and abroad.and for those concern about the name of the church called,i would advice you carefully analyse your level of commitment to church and religeous support cause it seems you have not realise that religeon stands to be 60%the problem in the world 2day.

The reason he discontinued

The reason he discontinued the civil action, which is essentially an assertion of good character on his part, is probably to prevent questions about his previous behaviour and activities being called into evidence in the criminal case.

The point is clear.

The point of mentioning deeper life is that He pastors a deeper life church.I wonder why people would not just think straight and stop being an hypocrite.Deeper life is just the name of a church and not the name to take you to heaven.Good job S.R!

ENRICHED BY STEALING!

His name sounds like MIKE ASABARO of KENTURE and OBEDAFE HOLDINGS, who brought the famous AFRICAN INTERNATIONAL BANK (LTD) FORMERLY KNOWN AS BANK OF CREDIT AND COMMERCE INTERNATIONAL DOWN! He is on Nigerian streets a free man today. Who knows if this one is not a sponsor of a State Governor? Where are all the COCOA guys Ikeja and Akure sector who nailed many banks, as well as the RUBBER and COMMODITY guys in KANO? Nigeria we hail thee! By the way, how far with BUKOLA SARAKI'S SARAKI-GATE Fraud under investigation? Awaiting the carpets as usual!

in response to Am suspecting

The fraudsters that have wrecked Nigeria are muslims. for you to open your stinking mouth and say that means you dont know what you are saying. even in the offices that I have passed through, all the frauds perpetrated there were one way or the other linked to muslims.if you have nothing to say keep your dirty mouth shut

Our Religion

We christains are very funny, if it is a muslim that commits, we would generalise, if it is a christian, it is a Judas that chose his own way, wht a height of hypocrisy. Our religion is gradually becoming a fraudulent cult, where the pastors are super-rich, and we followers are poor because of our ignorance or sense of judgement. Let's face it, to the outsiders, if our religion is adjudged to be fraudulent religion, they are right as we are also right to call their religion that of terrorist if one of them commit the act of terrorism as defined by the whole mighty US. The guy that killed people because of the immigration of muslims to Norway is sick because he is a xtian, but if he is a muslim, he is and must be a terrorist. May God help the world

Watch what you say- how?

If people have nothing to say, they should be advise to keep off public forums. What do you mean by 'watch what you say because it may be your turn tomorrow'? Do you watch what you say when you attack the political thieves? Do you mean evil is stronger than good? If you want it to be your turn tomorrow, it will be but remember I believe God's grace is strong enough to keep us from evil so long we are willing to let him lead us. We should throw away that mentality of 'please do not talk', when evil is reigning in the land. I thank God for Bishop Akinola who did not keep quite as others have been doing.

"Is something wrong with there religion?"

What my Muslim brother failed to understand is that Christians generally say the truth to themselves rather than sympathize and deceive the non educated amongst us.If you live amongst Christians, you can go to your mosque with eyes closed but churches in your area now have barricades like military garrisons. In which case do you think people will wonder more, if something is wrong? If you read the comments, you will discover that most comments against the man are from Christians.

So the logic of that comment is too cheap to affect any christian because bible says 'every man shall stand alone before God on the judgement day...

Only One Side of the Story Here

Knowing human beings and conducts, all that SH wrote here wont be the entire story- at least there will be another perspective if the pastor and others mentioned tell their own side of things. Just thought we should refocus this way

ur a confused person full of ignorance

hw wuld u tie an individual or personnal character to a whole religion?do we say d rascas extremist in islame represent its religion?pls be wise nd talk wat u can defend.God is watchin u

Never a Surprise

Bala, have you ever heard about the deeds of Judas Iscariot a follower of Jesus? Should we then blame Christ for the actions of Judas, i don't think so. So there will always be a judas among the followers of Christ who have chosen their own ways by thier actions. The church is not to be blamed.

let he that thinks he stands

let he that thinks he stands take heed lest he falls. If the pastor is guilty in deed, watch what u say concerning him cos it may be ur turn tommorw. However am not in support of fraudulent practices. I pray God should help the pastor.

Did Deeper Life Die for You?

Mentioning Deeper life is no issue as far as I am concerned. I gave my life to Christ in Deeper life and have been there for over 20yrs, and it does not matter to me that Deeper Life is mentioned.I think the important thing is that if this man is guilty, he should face the law. Deeper Life is just a name. Pastor Kumuyi has asked the question, time and again "Brethren, did Deeper Life die for your sins?"

Paul said "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day".

Do not forget that Judas was with the Lord and yet he was a thief.

Sahara reporters is doing its job. If this was about another person in another religion or denomination, would you have been angry that Deeper Life was mentioned?

My broda there's nothing

My broda there's nothing wrong with mentioning ''deeper life'' afterall, thats his job- a pastor...? so if you were to write something about president Obama,i'm sure you would want to know what country he presides over as president...abeg, transparency is democracy !

why people witness what the dont know?

talking against man of God is
unfair because some people hate deeper life so much that even false witness arise against the church the don,t even varify the truth am not defending the man of god but people have to talk what the know even Jesus our lord and savior was mock and accuse falsely by some fanatics some people have become pharises against deeper life church why? you will be judge by what you say please.be careful no denomination in heaven we are all believer let us be one in one lord.

WHY DEEPER LIFE CHURCH IS MENTIONED.

WHY WON'T DEEPER LIFE CHURCH BE MENTIONED? IS HE NOT A PASTOR WITH THE CHURCH? WE CAN SAY DEEPER LIFE IS VICARIOUSLY CULPABLE........WE CAN ARGUE THAT HE USED HIS POSITION AS A DEEPER LIFE PASTOR TO DO THE FRAUD. MAYBE HE WAS ASSUMED TO BE A CHARACTER OF INTEGRITY BECAUSE HE IS A PASTOR OF DEEPER LIFE. THAT IS WHY DEEPER LIFE CHURCH IS MENTIONED IN THIS CASE.

THERE IS A DAY OF RECKONING FOR EVIL "DOERS"

Am Suspecting!

My simple question to Christians and Christianity is that why are their religious leaders fraudulent always? To those that can see and to those that have ears,something must be very wrong with that religion. May the almighty Allah continue to be guiding us unto the right path,Ameen!

Erik is a Deeper Life Church

Erik is a Deeper Life Church Pastor. Very simple reasoning that you can't understand? Mr. Nexus.

Simple. The guy in question

Simple. The guy in question is a Deeper Life Church Pastor!

What would Nigeria be like without the people-journalism of SR?

Corruption in high places; oppression of the down-trodden; suppression of the truth and a decade of unprecedented looting ... SR called names but you haven't stopped and won't.  Now, those who were used to dispossess Nigeria of millions overseas while engaged in Nigeria's most lucrative business after looting:  religion as entrepreneurship are coming to judgment.  A million thanks, young man; thanks, SR.

Dont be Hypocrites

Please gentlemen the report is pretty ok.the
Man is a Pastor n with the mentioned church.
And that is ok. The report mentioned it Once which makes sense cos it only mentions where he pastors period. No more mention of
The church cos it is not involved. U r the
People trying to raise issues about church
So leave sahara reporters on that issue.
Will it be possible to discuss Obama without
Mentioning America? No. U hv to at some point in the discuss.
Stop being hypocrites.

DEEPER LIFE PASTOR CRIMINAL!!!

DEEPER LIFE PASTOR TO BE JAILED FOR STEALING

saints?

So deeper life pastors are saints? if your answer is yes,then you're very ignorant and a dimwit.

SAD TALE OF TWO COIRRUPT LIARS

Emeka Ugwuonye reaped where he did not sow, now he is paying for it. Stealing clients money and looting Nigeria with corrupt politicians. At some point he started shipping luxury vehicles to Nigeria with all his loot. Now he is writing everyday with DANIAL ELOIMBAH THE CORRUPT. Emeka never associated with Igbo at all. When in trouble he remember tribalism. EWU THIEF.
Abakporo will rot in jail.
No so I see-am

Show the nexus between

Show the nexus between deeperlife and all the cases. SR can be nauseatingly sensational

Be prepared for posts with

Be prepared for posts with the usual lines; i.e. that these guys are being "persecuted" because of their ethic origin. The Nigerian Model Is not replicated anywhere else in the World.

Good work

Keep up the good work. Though we are helpless in the Nigeria, let them know their corruption is open to the whole world. The citizens are behind you.

what's the point

what was the point of mentioning deeperlife in this article? nonsense!