Abuja – Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Tobi Okechukwu has urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to “take all diplomatic steps and other necessary interventions regarding the travails of the Ekwermadu’s family”.

The Member representing Ekweremadu’s Aninri/Awgu/Oji River Federal Constituency, while moving the motion on Tuesday, said it was “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”.

Recalling the longstanding history and cordial ties between Nigeria and the UK and the pleas for mercy for the Ekweremadus by eminent Nigerians such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the lawmaker urged the UK Government to take cognisance of both the intention of the Ekweremadus and the predicaments of their ailing daughter, who still needed the financial support and parental love of her parents to survive.

“I do not know any living human being, who would ordinarily want to commit a crime and go and report himself. Justice must be done with the intendment of the person in mind. If the intention were to commit a crime, then he would not have reported himself by writing to the UK High Commission where he pleaded that the potential donor be given a medical visa.

“Senator Ekweremadu has never been convicted of any crime. As a matter of fact, he has come to the aid of Nigerians. On several occasions, his Foundation, the Ikeoha Foundation, has contributed towards the common good of Nigerians.

“It really hurts. So, I want to ask my honourable colleagues, Mr. Speaker, to bring the full weight of this parliament, both formerly and informally, and ask the British Government to remember the long-term relations we have had with them.

“Nigeria asks the British Government to do unto a serving Member of the Nigerian parliament, as they would wish Nigeria does unto them were the table to turn; that they should serve the cause of justice by showing some clemency, mindful of the intent”, Okechukwu stated.

Seconding the motion, Member representing Lagos Mainland Federal Constituency, Hon. Jomoh Abdul, urged the Nigerian government to treat the matter as a Nigerian problem.

“I am a Yoruba man to the core. I am a Muslim. I am a patriot. Nigerians are one. This is not the problem of Ekweremadu, but rather the problem of this country because there is nowhere they will mention Ekweremadu that they will not mention Nigeria.

“This is a man that is so committed to this country. What has happened is unfortunate in the sense that this offence was committed because of his daughter. And it can happen to any other person. So, we are calling on the British Government to be merciful on the Ekweremadus in this situation.

Summing up the debate, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila clarified that the House was not absolving the Ekweremadus, “but to plead for clemency”.

“It behoves any government of any country, wherever their citizens are distressed or found in situations such as this, that their government should intervene, not in the bid to establish their innocence, but in the bid to plead for clemency. Nations have done it times without number, even advanced democracies in the world.

“And for that reason, I will on behalf of the House of Representatives, also speak to the British Government and Judicial system. For as long as I have known Senator Ike Ekweremadu, he has been brilliant lawyer, a distinguished public servant, and a dedicated family man. Over the course of two decades of shared service in the national legislature, he has become a dear friend and trusted colleague.

“For these reasons, his arrest by authorities in the United Kingdom on charges of conspiring to arrange the travel of another Nigerian citizen to harvest his organs was a terrible shock. These revelations are a far departure from the character of the man as I have known him and fall far short of the standards of behaviour expected from a person of his standing.

“For twenty-four years since the return to democratic governance in Nigeria, Ike Ekweremadu has served the people of his community, his state and his country with vigour and dedication. For most of that time, he has been a member of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He has used this office to advance the cause of democracy, champion critical reforms and advocate for the development of his constituency.

“Through his Ikeoha Foundation, he and his wife have helped provide access to quality education and healthcare for thousands of people in his community and his state. Their public service and private philanthropy have helped improve the social, economic and political fortunes of their communities and aided the personal and professional progress of many.

“None of this suggests that either Ike Ekweremadu or his wife should be above the law or held to a different standard than any other citizen. I recount these things to present a whole perspective so that in this moment of consequence, the judgment of the court may take into consideration the Ekweremadu’s history of honourable living and distinguished service, their contributions to a better world and the possibility that, given a chance, through the penitence of service, both Ike and his wife can yet atone for their failings and find forgiveness before God and man.

“I am confident that Ike Ekweremadu and his wife have learned from their recent experiences and will be guided by their better angels for the rest of their days. If nothing else, for the sake of their ailing daughter, Sonia, let mercy temper justice for this family”, the Speaker pleaded.

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