EKWEREMADU: Temper justice with mercy, Reps write UK govt

  • Urge FG to take diplomatic steps to intervene in trial

The House of Representatives on Tuesday wrote the United Kingdom government with regard to the sentencing of the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice.

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This followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance raised by a member, Toby Okechukwu, during the plenary session of the House.

The lawmakers also pleaded that the UK court “temper justice with mercy” in the sentencing of the lawmaker and also urged the Federal Government to take diplomatic steps to intervene in his trial.

The House asked the Clerk of the lower legislative chamber to “convey” their resolutions in writing to the British Embassy, the UK government and the parliament.

Justice Jeremy Johnson will pass a sentence on the former Deputy Senate President of Nigeria on May 5, 2023, at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey in the UK.

In March, the Old Bailey Court in London found Senator Ekweremadu, his wife, Beatrice and a medical doctor, Obinna Obeta guilty of an organ-harvesting plot involving a London NHS hospital.

They were found guilty of conspiring to exploit a young man from Lagos for his body part.

Ekweremadus’ 25-year-old daughter Sonia, who was to receive a kidney donation from the trafficking victim, wept as she was cleared of the same charge by the court.

The former Deputy Senate President and his wife were arrested in the UK and charged with trafficking a 21-year-old street trader from Lagos, for organ harvesting with intent to provide a kidney to Sonia in an £80,000 private transplant at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

On Tuesday, Toby Okechukwu, a member of the House, made the appeal by drawing attention to what he described as Ekweremadu’s contributions to the Commonwealth of Nations.

He also noted that Ekweremadu’s intentions were to save the life of his sick daughter, Sonia, and not to commit a crime.

He said Ekweremadu had been a source of assistance to many Nigerians in need of help.

The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, also pleaded for clemency for Ekweremadu, saying he had no prior convictions.

He described Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice as upright citizens and asked the UK court to consider their sick daughter who would still need her parents’ care.

The federal lawmakers urged the Nigerian government to intervene, saying there should be back channels for diplomatic intervention.

In April, former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote to the UK court pleading for clemency for Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice.

This was stated in a leaked letter dated April 3, 2023, and addressed to the Chief Clerk of the Court, titled ‘Re: Ike Ekweremadu.

Obasanjo stated that while the Enugu West Senator’s action was condemnable and unacceptable, he had contributed his quota to Nigeria’s socio-political development, and thus his punishment should take into account his past records of good deeds and the plight of his ailing daughter.


The statement read in part, “My dear Chief Clerk, may I seize this opportunity to commend your utmost dedication and resourcefulness which you have demonstrated with rare qualities of commitment and courage, while also upholding the cherished traditions of the Public Service. I am Olusegun Obasanjo, a soldier commissioned into the British Army of the West African Frontier Force in 1958, and rose to the rank of a full General in the Nigerian Army. I received the surrender of the Biafran Army at the end of the Nigerian civil war. I was military Head of State from 1976 to 1979 and elected President from 1999 to 2007.

“Mr. Chief Clerk, I am very much aware of the current travails and conviction of Ike Ekweremadu and his wife in the United Kingdom resulting from 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. I do realise the implications of their action and I dare say, it is unpleasant and condemnable and can’t be tolerated in any sane or civilized society.

“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,” the statement added.

Ekweremadu, 60; his wife, Beatrice, 56; and Obinna Obeta, 51, were found guilty of processing the travel of a young man to Britain with a view to his exploitation after a six-week trial at the Old Bailey.

Also, the Senate has directed its Committee on the Interior to urgently investigate the circumstances leading to the delay of issuance and renewal of the Nigeria passport by the Nigerian Immigration Services.

The Upper Chamber also mandated the committee to investigate the contract award for the production of passports and revert to it on the findings from its investigation within two weeks.

The Senate’s resolution followed the adoption of a motion on the “Delay on issuance, renewal of Nigeria International Passport” by the Nigerian Immigration Services at plenary on Tuesday and was sponsored by the senator representing Anambra Central, Uche Ekwunife.

Ekwunife in her lead debate said the delay in the renewal of Nigeria’s passport by the NIS was resulting in untold hardships for Nigerians who need to travel out of the country or return to the country.

She said, “The passport is an official identity document issued to Nigerians for the purpose of travelling out and into the country in exercise of their rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement.

“Many Nigerians are still facing challenges with passport processing, despite the six-week timeline of processing passports given by the Federal Government barely a year ago.”

According to Ekwunife, currently, new applicants and those who want their passports renewed spend between three and six months processing their application at the offices of the Nigerian Immigration Services and Nigeria embassies outside the country.

She added, “Getting an appointment for biometric capturing at the passport offices now takes between five and eight weeks, while it takes many applicants four months waiting for their passports to be ready for collection after the biometric exercise.

“It has also become extremely difficult for passports to be processed across the entire Nigeria Immigration offices in different states, especially Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt.”

This, she noted, was forcing the applicants to travel to various locations to get their passports renewed.

“The international students are also finding it very difficult to renew their passports to enable them to travel back to reunite with their families,” she said.

Similarly, Gershom Bassey (PDP- Cross River), who seconded the motion, said the issuance of a passport was the right of every Nigerian.

He expressed concern that the idea of delay in the issuance of passports was almost becoming a controversy and not in the best interest of Nigerians.

Corroborating her colleagues, Biodun Olujimi (PDP – Ekiti) said the motion was timely, saying that it was important to resolve the issue as that was not the situation in the past when passports were issued within two to three days.

She said it was embarrassing to Nigerians that applicants would need to wait six to eight months for the passport to be issued.

In his comments, Adamu Bulkachuwa (PDP-Bauchi), however, said the motion had come too late as the matter should have been presented earlier before the Senate.

Bulkachuwa said, “I had experienced a similar delay when I applied for a renewal of my passport as Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs.”

According to him, it took five weeks for him to be issued his passport after his biometric exercise.

The Senate, also in its other resolution on the motion, mandated its committee to investigate the contract award for the printing of passports.

The Interior Committee was directed to report back to the House the outcome of its investigation within two weeks.