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After Nigeria UN Mission Ran Over NY Paralegal Now Asks For 2 Months to Settle

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Dec 29 – A few blocks from the United Nations on 49th Street and Second Avenue on 6 April 2018 Jennifer A. Edward was heading to her work as a lawfirm paralegal when a Nigerian Mission to the UN vehicle struck her, causing serious injury.    The vehicle's registration and insurance were both expired, in violation of the U.S. Diplomatic Relations Act.  And, Inner City Press learned on August 22, there was a passenger who is now back in Nigeria.

The driver who was working for Nigeria's Mission had previously had accidents. But Nigeria and its mission refused to pay, or even fo months to respond to the lawsuit that was filed, and legally served as far away as Nigeria. Call it impunity, so prevalent in and around the UN.    

On July 10 the case came up before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Paul G. Gardephe. While denying Ms. Edward's motion for default judgment, Judge Gardephe essentially mocked the Nigerian Mission's argument that they needed more time to explore the issue of pre-existing condition. On consent, he referred the case to Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman.

   On August 22 Inner City Press went to the initial conference before Judge Freeman, whom it recently covered during her week presiding over the Magistrates Court. She brought practicality there, including an 8 pm phone call to a defendant's parents in Arizona - and now to the Nigeria Mission case. She urged them to settle.

  Nigeria's UN Mission, which first in typical UN style tried to simply thumb its nose at the law, later retained the Foley Hoag firm. Their Shrutih V. Tewarie on August 22 said that the passenger in the (uninsured) car was on a mission for the government at the time of the crash. While Judge Freeman joked "a mission for the Mission," it may be important to know who the passenger was, and what they were doing in New York.

  But perhaps now that will never be known. On December 27 the parties wrote to Magistrate Judge Freeman asking for the extension of all deadlines for at least two months, to try to settle: "Re: Edwardv. The Permanent Mission of Nigeria et al., Case No. 1:18-cv-08381 Dear Judge Freeman: We write on behalf of defendants The Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations and Mr. Uthman Mohammed ( collectively, the "Defendants") in the above-referenced matter. Plaintiff Jennifer A. Edward ("Ms. Edward") is represented by the law firm Harford P.C. By this letter, the parties jointly and respectfully provide their joint status update to the Court pursuant to the Court's order entered on November 4, 2019. (Dkt. #39). Since filing the last status update letter on November 1, 2019 (Dkt. #38), the parties have continued to engage in and exchange discovery. Ms. Edward has made supplemental document productions, and the Defendants have produced additional interrogatory responses. The parties have also resumed settlement discussions and are actively working toward an agreement. As such, the parties would also like to take this opportunity to respectfully request that the Court extend all forthcoming deadlines, including the deadlines for fact and expert discovery, by a period of two months. This will allow the parties to focus their  time and efforts in the near term on finding a potential amicable resolution to this matter." It has been granted. Watch this site.

Ms. Edward is in her 20s, and has run a New York City marathon. The Nigerian mission in belated filings with Judge Gardephe has tried to blame their failure to response on the recent elections leading to the continuation of rule by President Buhari.    

Inner City Press, having seen Buhari's administration engage in illegal refoulement to Cameroon, unremarked on by the UN's Nigerian Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed, and having seen the UN claim impunity for cholera in Haiti and roughing up and banning the Press in New York, went to cover the July 10 proceeding.   

Afterward it spoke generally with Ms. Edward's lawyer Scott A. Harford. He explained the difficulty of getting the lawsuit served in Nigeria, and the lack of responsiveness by the U.S. Mission to the UN which is supposed to ensure that other countries' Missions to the UN at least maintain car insurance.

The case is moving to Magistrate Judge Debra C. Freeman, more on Patreon here, and Inner City Press will continue to cover and pursue this and other related cases against impunity.

Vivian Wang, who as money manager for convicted UN briber Ng Lap Seng's South South News made payments to disgraced President of the UN General Assembly John Ashe, was given a time served sentence on June 26 by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge George B. Daniels.

   Wang's lawyers at Goodwin Proctor, in a heavily redacted sentencing submission, stated that her deceased husband Forest Cao "was 57 years old adn had no known health problems of medical conditions. No autopsy was performed."

 It also says, as to UN President of the General Assembly John Ashe, that while awaiting trial on UN bribery charges "his death was reported as the result of a 'weightlifting accident' after a barbell apparently crushed his throat."

  After the sentencing, Inner City Press with covered the Ng Lap Seng trial before SDNY Judge Vernon Broderick daily asked Wang's lawyer Derek A. Cohen if he was implying that Forest Cao and John Ashe were killed, and why he had so heavily redacted this sentencing submission.

 "It speaks for itself," Cohen said by the elevators. Likewise the Assistant U.S. Attorney on the case Daniel C. Richenthal declined Inner City Press' question about who beyond Ng Lap Seng Ms. Wang had cooperated against.

 Judge Daniels did not preside over the trial of Ng Lap Seng. He accepted the government's recommendation of time served with very little inquiry.

  He said as if by rote that corruption of the UN is a serious matter. But if so, why should a person who paid bribes in the UN get such a light sentence with little public showing of the benefit of their cooperation?

   Corruption has continued at the UN since the prosecution of Ng Lap Seng, resulting in his four year prison sentence. A second, separately prosecution was brought against Patrick Ho of CEFC China Energy, an entity which also tried to buy the oil company of Lisbon-based Gulbenkian Foundation which employed current UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as a compensated board member.

  Neither in the Ho nor Ng Lap Seng cases where any of the UN Secretariat officials implicated in the bribery schemes prosecuted.

  This laxity can be contrasted with another SDNY proceeding a mere hour later, in which Judge P. Kevin Castel looked behind the U.S. Attorney's Office's 5k1.1 cooperation letters and imposed jail time on the four siblings, the Seggermans, who evaded taxes. That underlying case was USA v. Little, 12-cr-647 (Castel). This bifurcated case is USA v. Wang, 16-cr-495 (Daniels).

 Vivi Wang helped bribe the UN, and on June 26 she got a time served sentence for undefined cooperation. Judge Castel looked behind the government's 5K1.1 letter but Judge Daniels did not. And the UN continues corrupt. Inner City Press will have more, much more, on this.


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