THE Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Sidie Mohamed Tunis, has appealed to the Chief Clerk of the Central Criminal Court Old Bailey, London, over the sentencing of his predecessor Ike Ekweremadu, for offences relating to organ trafficking.
Ekweremadu, a Deputy Senate President, along with his wife Beatrice, and doctor Obinna Obeta, were convicted of organ trafficking, in the first verdict of its kind under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act.
The couple had facilitated the travel of a 21-year-old Nigerian man to the United Kingdom (UK), for the purpose of transplanting one of his kidneys to their ailing daughter, Sonia, after the man was confirmed as a good match by Obeta.
But the story took a different turn when the man told UK authorities that he was deceived into travelling and was not aware he was to donate his kidney to Sonia, raising questions about consent which the couple claimed they previously got from him.
In his letter to the UK Court, Tunis said as a parent, he could relate to the pains, dilemma and crossroads the couple faced over the health of their daughter and urged the court to wear a human face in meting out judgement on May 5, noting that Sonia must still undergo a kidney transplant to stand a chance of surviving to fulfil her destiny.
“It is certain that Sonia cannot survive the absence of her parents in her present health condition… 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,” Tunis added.
Nigeria’s House of Representatives and former President Olusegun Obasanjo have also made similar appeals to the Old Bailey Court.