REJOINDER: Analysis of Huhuonline/Emeka Asiwe’s Failed Embassy Damage Control…And Financial SAGA
Our attention has been drawn to a series of reports published by Republic Report of June 26, 2012 concerning the ongoing allegations of financial impropriety involving the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Ade Adefuye. We wish to tender this rejoinder as a right of reply to statements attributed to a certain Nigerian Washington DC- based Barrister, Emeka Ugwonye, which we find false, misleading and injurious to our Publisher/Editor Mr. Emmanuel Emeke Asiwe.
We are compelled to respond to the barrage of churlish invectives by Emeka Ugwonye and Republic Reporters and others in their parochial fraternity who have tried to misrepresent the focus of our dissent with the allegations they have made against Ambassador Adefuye while ignoring the central nexus of the investigative report we published. The rubbish (for that is exactly what it is) that has spewed from them is an insult and an affront on the collective sensibilities of all level-headed Nigerians. It is high time they stop making Nigerians the laughing stock of the international community.
Let us begin by re-stating the main focus of our report: that the so-called financial scandal that has ignited another propaganda blitz amongst the motley garrison of anti-Ambassador Adefuye gainsayers is inconsequential and of no effect; even just for the mere reason that those making the allegations have no concrete evidence to prove their case. It is cheap blackmail and a witch-hunt! Just for the record, and for the benefit of readers who might have been tempted to read Emeka Ugwonye’s jarring and biased misrepresentations and believe they are factual, we wish to make the following clarifications.
Firstly, and contrary to what Barrister, Emeka Ugwonye and Republic Reporters reported, neither Mr. Emmanuel Emeke Asiwe publisher/Editor of Huhuonline.com nor any of our staff ever received a dime let alone $25,000 from Ambassador Adefuye. We will refrain here from questioning the motives behind this outrageous claim by Republic Reporters. While we have no time for such rumor peddling, we will respectfully decline journalism lessons from Republic Reporters and their expert lawyer analyst Emeka Ugwonye because such an effort would amount to a Catechist trying to preach the gospel to the Pope.
But before Republic Reporters continue to stand journalism on its head, we may want to ask them to tell their readers that brand of journalism in which for want of facts and professional capacity, an online medium would chose to hide behind a discredited mendicant to justify its unwarranted attacks on Ambassador Adefuye and Huhuonline.com publisher. Professional ethics demanded that Republic Reporters tell their readers that Emeka Ugwonye was sacked as lawyer for the Nigerian embassy following a massive financial scandal in which Ugwonye swindled the embassy. It therefore stands to reason that his vituperative ranting against Ambassador Adefuye is born out of frustration.
Ugwonye’s rambling syntax is very instructive. Hear him:
“… The gentleman (Emmanuel Asiwe) was polite, I must say. He informed me that he was coming to Washington DC on Friday, June 22, 2012 at the invitation of the Ambassador. Don’t get me wrong. It is perfectly alright for him to try to speak with me or the Ambassador”, Ugwuonye said.
Ugwuonye’s circumlocutious bloviating is spurious and his unsubstantiated allegations are entirely without merit. After admitting that there was nothing wrong in Huhuonline.com talking to the Ambassador, he contradicted himself in the next paragraph:
“I sensed that Ambassador Adefuye had invited him to Washington in order for him to tell his side of the story. It is not an abnormal thing for a person in his position to do so... “It was clear to me that if the Ambassador of Nigeria invited an online journalist from over 400 miles to his home or office, I can swear that it is not for an open discussion. Ambassador Adefuye would not invite Huhuonline unless there was assurances of a deal. It just doesn’t make sense. They suspect all outsiders unless someone deeply embedded within could vouch for you or unless some bribe money is in on the table to guarantee trust and cooperation.”
We would relish engaging Barrister Ugwuonye in an honest debate free of all his garrulous banter. But the illogical absurdities in his apposite remarks, acerbic as they may seem, points to a cantankerous mind, shallowly na├»ve and incapable of sound intellectual judgment. He comes across as someone without any personal convictions; just a knee-jerk with a high nuisance value seeking to be noticed. His lack of civility is matched by a penchant for name-calling actuated by a primitive vendetta of self-abnegation and a certain blind, narrow-minded hate, borne of an unseemly parochial prejudice against Ambassador Adefuye and the Nigerian embassy.
As much as we have tried to rationalize the motivation in his diatribe, permit us say at this time and point, that Nigerians cannot afford to be distracted by people who speak the language of yesterday with such profound recklessness without any due consideration of the consequences of projecting such a narrow selfish agenda. That someone of Ugwuonye’s standing would join this category of ego-offensive sycophants to champion hypocrisy and double-speak as the salaaming slogan of yellow journalism as practiced by Republic Reporters is clearly beyond commonsense.
That said, in reply to the specific issues raised by Republic Reporters and Barrister Ugwonye we will tender the following responses: (We have retained their exact wording as a heading for each point, even though we would not agree with their terminology or the sentiment behind it).
“I don’t know exactly when the publisher of Huhuonline got to Washington on Friday. But even if he got to Washington Friday morning, the time was not sufficient to move him from his knowledge level on Thursday night to the expert he appears to have become on Monday morning when he published the new version of his story on these matters. It was a big learning curve for a researcher however skilled to traverse within such a short period, given several specific factual assertions and sweeping conclusions in the report. In any event, given the range of the information that Huhuonline throws about as of Monday (today), they could not have been sourced all within Friday.”
Ugwuonye seems to be dim-witted and does not have a fertile mind so he tries to hold Huhuonline.com to his shallow standards, since according to him four days is too short a time to investigate a story. It probably would never occur to Ugwuonye that before leaving Boston to DC to meet the Ambassador, Mr. Asiwe as a serious journalist had done his homework. It stretches disbelief and this kind of self-serving argument would cause laughter were it not absurdly and hypocritically tragic. You just have to laugh to keep from crying; maybe we are missing something here, but we still cannot understand why someone with any pretence to education can afford to put his name to such a spurious and fallacious argument in the public sphere. Shame unto you, Mr. Ugwuonye.
“I was able to inform huhu publisher that the Ambassador withdrew 0ne million dollars in cash in one week last week of February or first week of March of this year. That’s not confidential information, but it is true.”
It is indeed perplexing that the all-knowing Mr. Ugwuonye wants us to believe that the Ambassador went to the media to announce that he was going to withdraw one million dollars in cash from the embassy account, to the extent that he could aver authoritatively that it is “not confidential information, but it is true.” Secondly, it stretches credulity for Ugwuonye to suggest that Ambassador Adefuye would enter a bank with a trunk to collect a million dollars in cash. Knowledgeable observers who understand how things operate in the USA must be laughing their lungs out.
When huhu publisher spoke to me yesterday night, he was quick to tell me that he tried to confirm the one million withdrawal but could not do so. I asked him how he tried to confirm it. He said he asked an M & T bankers. And the man said he didn’t know whether that happened or not. There are four problems with this, but I pointed out only one. The problems are: (a) Huhuonline did not have time to meet with any M & T bank official if he arrived here on Friday and met with the Ambassador. The bank is downtown DC and far away from the Embassy in heavy downtown traffic, unless he drove to the bank with Ambassador and they were talking as they drove, which is unlikely.
What makes Ugwuonye think that Mr. Asiwe could not have time to contact M&T officials? It is easy to see the juvenile nature of Ugwuonye’s reasoning and his remarkable unfamiliarity with basic US banking rules and regulations. It might interest Ugwuonye to know that no bank in America will pay out one million dollars cash without due diligence, diplomatic status or not. To aver the contrary is, I believe, not just fallacious; it is nothing short of moronic.
I asked huhu publisher the following questions as a true test of a transparent and open investigation: (a) How much were the balances on the Embassy accounts in January, February, March, April? Huhuonline could not answer that question. That means that huhuonline cannot address the question of money laundering and movement of funds into and out of those accounts. (b) When exactly did the Embassy migrate its accounts from M & T Bank to Citi Bank? Huhuonline does not know. (c) How much was the balance on the account since it moved to Citi or now? Huhuonline does not know. It really means that Huhuonline was never given the information to enable them answer the only question Nigerians are interested in.
It is hard to figure out how Ugwuonye came by this conclusion. The fact is that Huhuonline.com was in possession of copies of the following copies of certified bank check of refunds issued to the Nigerian embassy after its account were closed and so could not have been ignorant as Ugwuonye claimed. The checks that bore the address #6443 South Charles Street were issued on 05/01//12:
Check Numbers and Amounts:
3003755141( 3) $212,501.82
3003751136 - (8) $202, 533, 48
3003375135 - (0) $17,782.55
300375142 - (2) $13,292.29
300375132 -(3) $200.85
300375133 -(2) $2,482.17
Honestly speaking, if our thoughts find expression in the fact that some people operate without principles, we can only tell Ugwuonye: your sins are forgiven. How can anyone establish criminal wrongdoing with these figures? Only a dunce like Ugwuonye can try to see white and call it black.
What we quarrel with is the glaring inconsistencies that his materialistic woolliness and self-centered pedestrianism conveys to some of us, who continue to witness the circus of his personal drama as he faces charges ranging from stealing $1.5 million tax refund from real estate transactions from the Nigerian embassy, to nerve-jangling revelations that his license to practice law in Maryland has been suspended because he failed to pay his bar fees.
Ugwuonye is also facing another trial in Lagos where he is accused of stealing $94,000 in funds belonging to another Nigerian client, Sola Adeeyo. Nigerian prosecutors allege that Mr. Ugwuonye defrauded Mr. Adeeyo of the sum after representing the man to recover the monies from an American bank.
The truth of the matter is different than what the Ambassador wants to feed you. Huhuonline’s report is actually a miserable attempt to package a bad situation. But I appreciate their effort and their good luck in being chosen by Ambassador to launder the image of his Embassy.
We also see it as our duty, to bring public attention to the fact that Ugwuonye defended the military regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar (ret.) against lawsuits in the US, and received thousands of dollars in compensation. However, he embezzled monies recovered from the US Internal Revenue Service for real estate transactions in which he had represented the Embassy. That act led to his subsequent arrest in Nigeria for criminal breach of trust.
Meanwhile, Republic Reporters is still waiting for Huhuonline response to the allegations leveled against the publishing house and its publisher, Emmanuel Asiwe. In Republic Reporters chat on the phone with Huhuonline publisher, Emmanuel Asiwe, he mentioned in passing that he doesn’t want to start a legal battle or refer the allegation to his attorney; we quickly told him that Republic Reporters has its attorneys, too. Emmanuel Asiwe said that in 2008, which he was abducted for speaking truth to power, but Rudolf Okonkwo in one article said that Mr. Asiwe arrest was stage managed and/or arranged. Nonetheless, the Nigerian Embassy investigation of multiple money laundry continues.
If this outrageous claim of Mr. Asiwe faking his own arrest is not madness by Carl Umunnah, one therefore wonders what is. We would like to tell Carl Umunnah, publisher of Republic Reporters that at Huhuonline.com, we don’t dwell in subterfuge and permutations just to make an impression or earn cheap publicity. Neither do we pander to the whims of ego-boosting, self-aggrandizing buccaneers who play to the gallery of public opinion and bend with the wind. We stand up for the principles we believe in, no matter whose ox is gored. Carl Umunnah is a man with an erratic disposition. His detractors even say the man suffers from temporal hallucination and is mentally unsteady. He carries a Nigerian passport but continues to insist that Nigeria does not exist. His news portal site republicreport.com, at inception was called Biafra Republic.
In conclusion, we have made the points we wanted to make about Ugwuonye and Republic Reporters and their smear campaign to rubbish the image of Ambassador Adefuye and the Nigerian embassy in Washington DC; the rest is collateral damage. We stand by our avowed stated position that the malicious campaign is cheap blackmail and inconsequential. Let the babies continue to cry. But no matter how long a stone stays in water, water will never enter the stone. We are looking forward to the day someone can have a real honest debate on journalism ethics without all the garrulous banter by Ugwuonye and Umunnah.
Needless reminding them that such banal vituperative aspersion they impugn on the character of Emmanuel Asiwe and Huhuonline.com amounts to libel and defamation and we reserve our rights with regards to our legal options! Thanks for reading.