Senate joins Reps, others in seeking clemency for Ekweremadu

THE Nigerian Senate has asked a United Kingdom (UK) court for leniency in sentencing former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice. 

The Senate, at plenary on Wednesday, May 3, appealed to the court to spare Ekweremadu, noting that the lawmaker was ignorant of the law while seeking a kidney donor for his ailing daughter.

Ekweremadu, Beatrice and a doctor, Obinna Obetta, are scheduled for sentencing on May 5.

The Senate appealed for clemency following a motion by the Minority Whip, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, representing Enugu North.

“The Senate is joining in the plea by asking for clemency in the coming sentencing two days away. That clemency may be extended to the Ekweremadus’ considering that all the convicts are first offenders,” Utazi said while moving the motion, adding that the Ekweremadus were struggling to save their dying child.

“They are seen as first offenders and do not have any previous criminal records, considering that Ekweremadu was ignorant of seeking out a kidney donor to come to the United Kingdom and even applying to British Government in Abuja for a visa for the donor.

 “The Senate is not happy with the conviction of the Ekweremadus and ignorance of the law is not an excuse, but they were faced with these circumstances in a bid to save their dying daughter, Sonia.”

Last year, the duo and their doctor, Obeta, were arrested for conspiracy to exploit a street trader of his kidney in the first such case under modern slavery laws. 

The ICIR had reported that the accused persons were declared guilty by the UK court and a verdict is expected on May 5.

Speaking on the matter, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the Senate should have intervened in the issue much earlier. 

He disclosed that he had once written to the British Judicial authorities on Behalf of the Senate, seeking clemency for the family.

“I have written a letter to the British Judicial Authorities about two-three weeks ago seeking clemency on behalf of the Senate. I signed the letter and had it delivered to the authorities in the United Kingdom.

“We are now using this particular intervention to seek clemency in the sentencing. The conviction has already been done but we are seeking clemency because this is the first time our colleague is getting involved in this kind of thing,” he said.

The House of Representatives and the ECOWAS Parliament had earlier made similar appeals to the court.

Members of the House of Representatives said the former lawmaker acted based on his limited knowledge of the UK laws, noting that he must have learned his lessons.






     

     

    “Senator Ike Ekweremadu acted within his limited knowledge of the UK laws and did write to the UK High Commission to support the medical visa application for the potential donor and did declare the purpose of the trip. They acted under the natural instincts of parents to save an ailing daughter and not for commercial purposes.

    “It is a common practice in international relations for nations, including the UK, to seek relief for their citizens involved in situations such as that of the Ekweremadus,” the Reps said. 

    The Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, also pleaded with the UK government for a lenient judgment. 

    Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was the first to plead for clemency for the Ekweremadus. In a letter dated April 3, which Obasanjo wrote to the court, the former Nigerian leader condemned the Ekweremadus’ action but pleaded that the UK temper justice with mercy.

    Beloved John is an investigative reporter with International Centre for Investigative Reporting.

    You can reach her via: [email protected]

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