A former United States-based Nigerian lawyer, Emeka Ephraim Ugwuonye has been disbarred in Nigeria after being disbarred in New York and Maryland for professional misconduct.
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.
Ugwuonye was found liable for fraud by Mr. J.S. Okutepa (SAN), Chief Prosecutor of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) at LPDC. It was discovered that Ugwuonye relocated to Nigeria after a story of fraud in the UnitedStates led to series of court cases.
However, in 2013, the United States District Court in Washington DC, issued a default judgment against Mr. Ugwuonye. This was due to diversion 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.
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.
In October 2016, Mr. Ugwuonye was facing disciplinary action before the LPDC, his name haven been on a list published as an advertorial signed by LDPC Secretary H.A. Turaki, and published in The Punch.
Unable to continue his fraudulent lifestyle in the United States, Mr. Ugwuonye attempted similar schemes in Nigeria, including opening a phony Facebook page where he made members donate funds to his law firm’s account. He has 28 days to appeal the ruling of the LPDC. With theparadigmng.com