Attorney-at-Law

NIGERIA CALLING?

In Uncategorized on 10/05/2020 at 10:53

I’ve remarked before that this my blog has been read in over 140 countries, territories, semi-autonomous regions, confederations, and commonwealths, but today is most unusual. So far, five (count ’em, five) views from Nigeria. WordPress’ statisticians tell me I have had fifty-five (count ’em, fifty-five) Nigerian views since this blog debuted ten years ago.

My curiosity is piqued. Why this interest today? So I looked: was there anything to do with that country in USTC today? Turns out maybe so there might could be.

Chidozie Ononuju, Docket No. 22414-18, filed 10/5/20, gets hit with Section 4958 excess benefits excise tax when he takes $648K out of his 501(c)(3) medical missionary outfit. Chiodozie blows past the Section 4958(a)(1) first-tier 25% hit, and reaches the second plateau, the Section 4958(b) 200% grand slam. Plus the nonfiling, nonpaying Section 6651s. So Chidozie is looking at around $1,540,000, plus interest. Mrs Ononuju, who also had signatory power on the bank account, is in for her own excise tax separately.

Mrs. is in GA, but Chidozie is medical-missionarying in the back country in Nigeria, and has trouble with the internet. So much trouble, that when he fails to show for the teletrial, he sends Judge Albert G (“Scholar Al”) Lauber to the CIA for help.

“Petitioner has provided no plausible excuse for failing to appear for trial. Because the trial was to be conducted remotely, his inability to return to the United States is irrelevant. We do not find his assertions about poor communication facilities in Nigeria credible. Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, is a modern planned city with a population exceeding three million. See Central Intelligence Agency, Nigeria, The World Factbook 2020, https://www.cia.gov/library/ publications/the- world-factbook/geos/ni.html (last updated Sept. 16, 2020). Petitioner has not explained why he was able to communicate regularly with respondent’s counsel by telephone and email before March 2020 but cannot do so now. One of his motions included a phone number where he could be reached via WhatsApp. Assuming arguendo that he could not access the internet, he has not explained why he could not use that number to participate in the trial by phone.

“The five-hour difference between the two time zones was not a plausible excuse either: The trial was estimated to take two hours and was to begin at 3:00 p.m. local time for petitioner, well within traditional business hours. In his second motion for continuance, he asserted that he was then in a rural area where communication facilities were poor. But he resides in Abuja, and he was obligated to plan his affairs so as to be available for trial. His professed concerns about unreliable internet and telephone service in Abuja simply do not justify refusing to appear at all. If he had appeared for trial as scheduled and experienced communication problems, the Court would have worked with him to address them.” Order, at p. 4.

I have never experienced any problems with communications from Nigeria. I receive many e-mails daily from there. I’m sure my readers share that experience.

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