As the May 5 sentencing date draws nearer for former Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, his wife Beatrice and a doctor Obinna Obeta, several groups and individuals have been appealing to the British government and judicial system for clemency on their behalf.
The trio will be sentenced to jail terms, at the Old Bailey in London, on Friday, after being found guilty in March of organ trafficking.
The latest groups appealing for clemency include the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Justice Jeremy Johnson fixed May 5 for sentencing after the three Nigerians were convicted for the crime in the first verdict of its kind under UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015.
60-year-old Ekweremadu and his 56-year-old wife as well as Dr. Obeta who is 51, were found guilty after a six-week trial, of facilitating the travel of a young man to Britain with a view to exploiting him. Sonia Ekweremadu, their daughter and the prospective receiver of the kidney, was found not guilty.
However, the lawmaker’s daughter, Sonia, was cleared by the court.
Recall that Ekweremadu denied the charge, telling the court the he was the victim of scam.
Several pleas have been sent to the sentencing authorities to temper justice with mercy in the case, beginning with a “Dear London Letter” to the Old Bailey by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Chief Obasanjo’s letter to the legal authorities in the UK was seen as an unexpected but welcome expression of deep support for a kinsman, to a man who seem to have been abandoned to his fate at his hour of need by friends, colleagues, home government and political associates.
In his letter which was dated April 3, 2023 and addressed to the Chief Clerk of the Central Criminal Court, at the Old Bailey, the chief court exercising criminal jurisdiction in London, England, Chief Obasanjo who was Nigeria’s Military Head of State from 1976 to 1979 and democratically elected President from 1999 to 2007 said he was very much aware of the travails and conviction of Ike Ekweremadu and his wife in the United Kingdom, resulting in their being charged with conspiring to arrange the travel of a 21-year old from Nigeria to the UK in order to harvest organs for their daughter.
In what could pass for a glowing testimonial, he stated that he had known Ike Ekweremadu for over two decades and within this period, he had followed and watched, with keen interest, Ekweremadu’s inspiring career which traversed private legal practice and public-administration.
He explained: “During my administration as a democratically-elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007, Ike Ekweremadu and I had close relationship and interactions as staunch members of our political party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and more so as he got elected into the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2003, of which he has since remained a member till date. Within this period of his service in the Nigerian Parliament, he has served as Deputy Senate President of the Senate and has headed so many Committees in various capacities and brought to bear his broad-based experience in legal practice and public administration. Sometime in 2009, he was appointed as the First Deputy Speaker of the Economic Community of West African State, ECOWAS, and made to lead ad hoc Committee to work for the return of constitutional order in Niger Republic”.
Obasanjo noted that Ike Ekweremadu’s conferment with Nigeria’s national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR, is further testimony to his selfless service to Nigeria.
He said he realized the implications of the Ekweremadus’ action that resulted in the trial and conviction, describing it as unpleasant and condemnable and cannot be tolerated in any sane or civilized society.
The former President pleaded: “However, it is my fervent desire that for the very warm relations between the United Kingdom and Federal Republic of Nigeria; for his position as one of the distinguished Senators in the Nigerian Parliament, and also for the sake of their daughter in question whose current health condition is in danger and requires an urgent medical attention, you will use your good offices to intervene and appeal to the court and the government of the United Kingdom to be magnanimous enough to temper justice with mercy and let punishment that may have to come take their good character and parental instinct and care into consideration. I do hope Mr. and Mrs. Ekweremadu have learnt from this distressing experience of theirs to guide their future actions or inactions so they will continue to be outstanding members of their community and will continue to contribute fully to the good of the society in particular and the nation in general”.
He commended the Chief Clerk for his utmost dedication and resourcefulness which he has demonstrated with rare qualities of commitment and courage, while also upholding the cherished traditions of the Public Service.
It is noteworthy that Chief Obasanjo was the first public figure to make such an appeal and others who came after were mostly regarded as jumping on his bandwagon, because even his erstwhile colleagues in the Senate could not be said to have been moved to offering such appeal.
It is not clear yet what the response will be from the Old Bailey or even the British Government over the appeal letter. Chief Obasanjo is very well regarded and respected internationally, especially within the Commonwealth where he has received several commissions to help the body mediate in many member countries. Another school of thought feels that the Nigerian government in which Ekweremadu served not only as an elected legislator but rose to be one of the top 10 citizens in the order of precedence should be seen to be involved in getting a soft landing for him. The National Assembly where he spent almost 20 years could not be said to have played any major role to soften the hardship their colleague and family have been through in the last months. This is not to say one condones what the Senator got involved in, but a citizen is a citizen and Ekweremadu was a top one to boot.
While waiting for sentencing on Friday May 5 at the Old Bailey, what are the chances of the convicted trio for clemency or soft landing? The British are known to be sticklers for the Law.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 under which they were convicted has provisions for sentencing spanning months to life in jail and Chapter 30 of the Act criminalizes a range of offences.
Section 5 (1) of the MSA 2015 says, “a person guilty of an offence under Section 1 or 2 is liable (a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life; (b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine or both”.
Section 5 (2) provides that a person guilty of an offence under Section 4 (stated above) is liable “on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years”.
4 Comments on “Organ Harvesting: Judgment Day Beckons for the Ekweremadus & Doctor”
Thanks Ojie for the scholarly write-up. I hope Ekweremsdus and others have learnt the lessons of poor health facilities in Nigeria which they could have improved through their resources and institutionally. As President Obasanjo is well known and respected internationally,would it not have been better,he used internationally diplomacy to British government than resorting to letter? Frans Ojielu, FCA.
Please check the setting of the Previous Articles and the Next Article.
I think there is indiscriminate application of the upper cases in the setting of the message. This makes it rather misleading in reading for comprehension. It makes each line look like a completely new message, whereas each line is a continuation of one and only thought.
I’m not sure I understand your comment. Which articles? None is related or linked. Are you sure your device is not formatting what you’re seeing? Can you copy and paste what you’re seeing and send to me by WhatsApp please?
This is a wake up call for those in authority to fix our health care facilities. Kidney transplant can be done in Nigeria.