AHEAD of sentencing on May 5, Nigeria’s House of Representatives has asked the United Kingdom (UK) to ‘temper justice with mercy’ in delivering judgment on former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who has been tried for organ trafficking.
In March, the UK’s Old Bailey Court in London, found Senator Ekweremadu, his wife, Beatrice and a medical doctor, Obinna Obeta guilty of an organ-harvesting plot against a 21-year-old Nigerian man.
In a resolution passed at plenary on Tuesday, May 2, the legislators also called on the Federal Government to take diplomatic steps to intervene in the matter.
Earlier, a lawmaker from Enugu state Toby Okechukwu, sponsored a motion of urgent public importance, where he stated that Ekweremadu “acted within his limited knowledge”.
He said although ignorance is not an excuse, the court should take into consideration that Ekweremadu has not been convicted before and has been a responsible citizen of Nigeria.
In the same vein, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said it behoves on any government to plead for clemency when their citizens are in such a situation.
“For 24 years, Ekweremadu has served the country with vigour. He has used his office to champion democracy,” Gbajabiamla said.
Last month, former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote asking the Chief Clerk of the UK c2ourt in old Bailey to intervene and ensure that justice is tempered with mercy on the matter.
“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) 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,” Obasanjo wrote.
During trial, prosecutor Hugh Davies KC said the Ekweremadus had treated the man and other potential donors as “disposable assets” and “spare parts for reward”, a behaviour that showed “entitlement, dishonesty and hypocrisy”.
He said Ekweremadu, who owns several properties and had a staff of 80, “agreed to reward someone for a kidney for his daughter – somebody in circumstances of poverty and from whom he distanced himself and made no inquiries, and with whom, for his own political protection, he wanted no direct contact”.
Davies also argued that Ekweremadu ignored medical advice to find a donor for his daughter among genuine family members.