BY BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, ABUJA
A group known as Concerned Nigerians United for Ekweremadu and Family has called on the United Kingdom government to grant bail to the former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu.
Ekweremadu, who represents Enugu West senatorial district at the red chamber of the National Assembly, was arrested by British authorities alongside his wife, Beatrice, upon arrival in the United Kingdom on June 21, 2022.
Since the arrest, Ekweremadu and his wife (who has been granted bail) have been standing trial in the UK over alleged conspiracy to harvest organs.
But addressing journalists on Thursday in Abuja after submitting a petition addressed to the UK High Commission, the leader of the group, Paul Sawa decried continued detention of Ekweremadu without trial over what it described as a ‘clearly bailable offence’.
The protesters were armed with placards inscriptions like, ‘Would a serving British MP be treated like this in Nigeria’? ‘Detention without trial, where is the human rights?”; Ekweremadu was only trying to save his daughter, it could happen to anyone’; ‘Please grant Ekweremadu bail’, among others.
The group said: “As believers in the rule of law, we have held our peace since his arrest in the hope that the law would vindicate him and his wife in no distant time. Unfortunately, the nightmare has continued with a protracted trial and his continued detention.
“A fair application of the justice system presupposes justice for all the parties, including the accused. It presupposes innocence until proven guilty. These fine principles of the law guarantee the fundamental human rights of every accused.”
The group noted that while it has no doubt that Ekweremadu would be vindicated, discharged, and acquitted, it was trite that justice delayed is justice denied.
The group noted with concern that Ekweremadu last appeared in court on August 4, 2022, adding that he was billed to appear in court again on October 31, 2022, about three months after, for pre-trial hearing.
It stated: “But the real trial to determine his innocence or otherwise is scheduled to commence in May 2023, seven months after by which time Senator Ekweremadu would have spent about one year behind bars.
“Worse still, we gather that the British authorities are also poised to charge Senator Ekweremadu’s ailing daughter to court on the same matter. This is most disturbing, especially as we had expected the UK authorities to be more humane and concerned with the treatment and recovery of the poor lady, who has evidently been through a lot already and whose condition must have been worsened by the travails of her parents in their bid to save her life.
“We are then moved to ask: Where is the humanity in all of this? Where is human right in all of this? Where is the presumption of innocence for the accused? Would the Nigerian government subject a UK Member of Parliament to the same shabby treatments and protracted detention on a clearly bailable offence under similar circumstance? More so, if such a UK parliamentarian had written to the Nigeria High Commission, fully disclosing the purpose of the organ donor’s trip, including the particular hospital where the case would be handled?,” it queried
Against this background, the group appealed to the UK government to grant Ekweremadu bail, stressing that the claim by his prosecutors that he was a flight risk was far from the truth.
It further appealed to the UK government to consider the noble cause of Ekweremadu, being a natural instinct and spirited effort of a loving and responsible father to save the life of his daughter.
It said this was something any other responsible parent could have done; and if this could happen to him, it could happen to anyone.