Former Nigerian deputy Senate president Ike Ekweremadu and his wife were sentenced to prison by a UK court for their involvement in an alleged conspiracy to traffic a child for organ harvesting
While some Nigerians called for intervention from the government, Ekweremadu’s close ally expressed disappointment at the lack of support from his own people
Human rights activist Emmanuel Onwubiko criticized the government for not intervening, citing the different treatment foreign nationals receive when accused of crimes in Nigeria
The delayed intervention from Nigerians and supporters of former deputy Senate president Ike Ekweremadu and his family in the case of organ trafficking brought against him at the UK Court was not enough to set him free, Topnewstv.com.ng reports.
Recall that Ekweremadu had been charged to court in the United Kingdom over alleged organ trafficking involving a young Nigerian man (name withheld for legal reasons).
The London Metropolitan police had charged Ekweremadu and his wife Beatrice with conspiracy to traffic a child to the United Kingdom for the purpose of harvesting organs.
The police said the charges came after an investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Crime team revealed details of the crime. They were consequently charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploiting and harvesting his organ.
According to the report as at then, the investigation was carried out after detectives were informed that the offences could be connected to modern slavery.
While the case continued to drag and the former Deputy Senate president remained in custody alongside his wife and doctor, rights experts who had though condemned the lawmaker’s action are of the belief that those who should have intervened in the case never did. The much-needed intervention that would have saved the situation never came until the eleventh hour.
Nigerians expressed worries
Some Nigerians had at a point called the Nigerian government to communicate to the UK government to be lenient in its judgment.
Meanwhile, the lawmaker, his wife, and his doctor were all sentenced on Friday, May 5, at a UK court over alleged human and organ trafficking.
While Ekweremadu got nine years and eight months in prison, his wife, Beatrice, got four years and six months in prison. The doctor who facilitated the deal, Obinna Obeta, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Poor response from Ekweremadu’s kinsmen
Speaking with Topnewstv.com.ng, a close ally of the senator who does not want his name in print, said the senator may have made a terrible mistake, but the poor response from his kinsmen and his rejection in the face of his ordeal complicated his problem.
“You asked about the support of the federal government for him, and one wonders why we should even go that far. Nobody was ready to sacrifice anything for him, including his own people. I will say we have mostly become unreasonable with our kind of politics.
“This is even an intention to commit a crime, the organ has not been harvested, yet his people abandoned. Nobody from the southeast thought it wise to engage the Nigerian government on the best way to secure Ekweremadu’s release. So you can’t even blame the federal government for the man’s ordeals.”
Ekweremadu’s diplomatic passport couldn’t save him
When asked whether Ekweremadu was with a diplomatic passport during his arrest and how that should have protected him, he said it is a shame how Nigeria treats other nationals who commit crimes in the country with so much respect but get debased each time they are arrested abroad.
“I also heard he travelled with a diplomatic passport. That was supposed to protect him against an arrest. At least, with that, the British government should have reached out to Nigeria and discussed modalities. How everything was just concluded without much involvement of our government is beyond me.”
Right activist blames government
To the coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, Ekweremadu made a serious mistake that needed to have been remedied by government solidarity, but because he was of the opposition and of the Igbo tribe, there was no clear intervention from the government.
He, however, hailed Nigerian lawmakers for standing with their own despite the gravity of the offence he committed.
According to Onwubiko:
“On the part of the national assembly, they did very well for him. But again, there was a wicket attempt by certain reactionary forces from his own zone in Enugu State who wanted to remove him; one of the reasons he is facing trials. But the national assembly did its best.
“But the government of Nigeria didn’t do anything. There was no presentation from the president. And when you have foreigners who commit crimes in Nigeria, the kind of first-class treatment they give to them is amazing. Like the Seplat Energy man who was accused of racism, nothing happened to him; he was set free. The charges against him were dropped because he is British.
“But you go to other countries, they don’t have respect even for our own prominent citizens.
“In as much as one may admit that there were some errors on the part of Ekweremadu, there are diplomatic channels that could have been used to find the way of resolving that matter.
“After all, the guy’s kidney has not been taken, even though there were attempts to do so.
“There is no reason for the president not to have engaged the UK authorities on the matter.”