The House of Representatives has appealed and urged the Central Criminal Court and the government of the United Kingdom to temper justice with mercy in sentencing the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, his wife, Mrs Beatrice Ekweremadu, and Dr Obinna Obeta who have been found guilty of organ harvesting.
The appeal came on the heels of a motion titled “Motion on the Need for Clemency for Senator Ike Ekweremadu” moved at Tuesday’s plenary by the deputy minority leader of the House, Toby Okechukwu under a matter of urgent public importance.
His sentencing will be announced on May 5.
Presenting the motion, Okechukwu said that Ekweremadu acted based on his limited knowledge of the UK laws, stressing that he must have learnt their bitter lessons.
He said: “Senator Ike Ekweremadu, a Nigerian Citizen, serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, former Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, and former Deputy Speaker and Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament and his wife, Mrs. Beatrice Ekweremadu, were tried and convicted by the Central Criminal Court, London, the United Kingdom (UK) for offences relating to the breach of the novel Modern Slavery Act 2015.
“The sentencing of the couple is scheduled for May 5, 2023.
“Senator Ike Ekweremadu acted within his limited knowledge of the UK laws and did write to the UK High Commission to support the medical visa application for the potential donor and did declare the purpose of the trip.
“Senator Ekweremadu and Mrs. Beatrice acted under the instincts of parents to save an ailing daughter, and not for commercial purposes.
“It is a common practice in international relations for nations, including the UK, to seek relief for their citizens involved in situations such as that of the Ekweremadus.
“The House is also aware of the longstanding history and cordial ties between Nigeria and the UK.
“Elder statesmen such as former Military Head of State and President, Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, have made a passionate plea for clemency, testifying also to Senator Ekweremadu’s character as a patriot, god-fearing, philanthropic and progressive citizen, who has served Nigeria and West Africa as former three-term Deputy President of the Senate as well as Deputy Speaker and Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament.
“Several Nigerian national dailies have also joined the call for clemency for the Ekweremadus through their editorials.
“The predicament of Ekweremadu’s ailing daughter, who needs financial support and parental love of her parents to scale through her dire health challenge.
“The Ekweremadus must have learnt their lessons”.
Adopting the motion, the House urged the federal government of Nigeria to take all diplomatic steps and other necessary interventions regarding the travails of the Ekwermadu family.
ECOWAS parliament seeks pardon for Ekweremadu
Also yesterday, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, parliament pleaded with a UK court to show mercy to Ike Ekweremadu and his wife.
In a letter addressed to the chief clerk of the central criminal court, Old Bailey, London, the speaker of the parliament, Sidie Tunis, said Ekweremadu made immeasurable contributions to the ECOWAS parliament while he was the speaker of the third legislature.
Describing Ekweremadu as “a major asset to the ECOWAS region”, the speaker said: “His long absence owing to his circumstance since June 2022 has denied us his invaluable service.
“It remains dreadful if he faces a long prison sentence in the present circumstance,” he said.
Tunis added that Sonia, the ailing daughter of the senator, cannot survive the absence of her parents in her present health condition.
“I wish to state that it is a common feeling among parents, especially in Africa, not to bury or survive his or her child.
“As a father, therefore, I can easily relate to the pains, dilemma, and crossroads of the senator and his wife over the health condition of their ailing daughter, who must still undergo a kidney transplant to stand a chance of surviving to fulfil her destiny.
“Who else could foot the bills better and also provide that morale support for the daughter? It still remains Senator and Mrs Ekweremadu. It is certain that Sonia cannot survive the absence of her parents in her present health condition.
“At this juncture, I wish to add that I totally stand against the crime for which the senator and his spouse have been convicted. The community parliament also stands against it.
“We do not support organ harvesting in any way and by any method. Nevertheless, we believe that lessons have been learnt, not only by Ekweremadu but by everybody.
“In view of all these, therefore, I wish to fervently appeal to the honourable court, on behalf of the ECOWAS parliament, for leniency in meting out justice to the couple.
“We understand the position of the law, but only appeal that the honourable court puts on a human face in this circumstance and temper justice with mercy, especially considering his good behaviour and contributions to the good of the society, the less privileged, and democracy.
“Importantly, the typical Ekweremadu, being one, who is given to charity work and experienced in lawmaking in Nigeria and internationally, could also be very useful to the Nigerian and international community in public enlightenment and legal reforms campaigns on organ trafficking to curtail such incidents drawing from his personal experience.”