Apex Igbo social-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has appealed to the federal government to use all diplomatic channels to ensure transfer of the organ harvesting case against former deputy Senate president Ike Ekweremadu to Nigeria.
Ekweremadu is facing trial in the United Kingdom (UK) over his alleged involvement in the attempt to harvest the organ of a 21-year-old man for his sick daughter.
The court had granted a stringent bail to his wife, Beatrice, but declined the same for the senator.
In a statement issued yesterday by the national publicity secretary of Ohanaeze, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, he faulted the position of the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami, that “the federal government of Nigeria will not interfere with any local or international legal battle involving Ike Ekweremadu.”.
Malami had told journalists last Thursday at the 46th Session of the State House briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The AGF said, “It has never been the tradition of the Nigerian government to interfere in anything judicial, local or international.”
But Ohanaeze insisted yesterday that the federal government should wade into the matter and assist Ekweremadu and his wife.
The group said cultural relativism remains a vital factor in international relations, adding that It connotes that the norms and values of one culture should not be evaluated using those of another.
Ogbonnia said it is the mosaic of cultures and the liberty for groups or nations to exercise their cultural rights that form the basics of international relations.
He said to this end, sovereigns usually interfere to save their citizens in foreign countries.
Ogbonnia pointed out that Ekweremadu had written to the UK High Commission to support a visa application of a “donor” listed as David Ukpo Nwamini.
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“In the letter, Ekweremadu made a full disclosure that Ukpo was undergoing “medical investigations for a kidney donation to his daughter.” The full name of the UK hospital was also stated and nothing shady. The Ekweremadu letter to the British Embassy was unequivocal.
“He indicated the purpose of his travel and also requested the embassy to grant visa to Mr Ukpo for a stated purpose. We view Ekweremadu’s full disclosure as a proof of non-criminal intent,” he said.
The Ohanaeze spokesman said they were persuaded to join Sadiq Obanoyen and several others to “ask if it was not unconscionable or even conspiracy on the part of the British government to issue a visa to David Nwamini following full disclosure by the senator that Nwamini was travelling to the UK for organ donation, but only to do 360 degrees and charge Ekeremadu and his wife for facilitating an illegality? In other words, would it not have been fair and just to refuse visa to Nwamini in the first place, citing the UK modern slavery legislation, especially as the UK is never known to be so generous with visa to Nigerians?”
He insisted that Ekweremadu’s letter and intentions were predicated on the principle of cultural relativism which emphasises that a person’s beliefs and conducts should be understood based on that person’s own culture.
Ogbonnia claimed that every dispassionate Nigerian knows that the practice of organ harvesting has over the years become a Nigerian provenance and of course, it is not viewed as unlawful so long as there is a mutual agreement between the parties involved.
He said it is in the context of cultural relativism and the premium placed on their citizens’ welfare and national pride, that countries deploy their diplomatic weights and resources to ensure their citizens obtain justice and even reprieve in a foreign land, no matter the gravity of the offence.
“A few examples may suffice: a) The British government intervened in favour of an ex-British serviceman, Captain Simon Mann, and the son of the late Prime Minister of Britain, Sir Mark Thatcher, who both faced charges in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Equatorial Guinea over a planned 2004 coup in the Central African country.
“b) Samantha Orobator, a British citizen was arrested in Lao People’s Democratic Republic in 2008 over drug trafficking and the case was subsequently transferred to the UK.
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” c) In the highly celebrated case involving a US citizen, Brittney Griner, the Women National Basketball (WNBA) star that was standing drug-related trial in Moscow. The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken revealed that the US had offered a deal to Russia aimed at transferring the case to the US. Also included is Paul Whelan who is serving a 16-year prison term in Russia for spying.
“Back home, in late 2018 and 2019, Nigeria brought her full diplomatic weight to bear in securing the release of Ms. Zainab Aliyu Kila, a Nigerian lady, after 124 days in Saudi Arabia prison over alleged drug trafficking. A statement by the then senior special assistant to the president on diaspora affairs at the time, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, explicitly stated that the president had directed the AGF, Malami, and other key government agencies to intervene,” he stated.
He insisted that Ohanaeze believes that Ekweremadu’s case should not be different, especially when Nigeria enjoys longstanding cordial relations with the UK, and all the individuals involved in the UK case are Nigerian nationals.
Ohanaeze believes that Ike Ekweremadu has served Nigeria meritoriously in various capacities while in the Senate as the Deputy President of the Senate; the Speaker of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), among others, and was decorated with the service honour of the Commander of the Federal Republic-CFR.
Ogbonnia urged the Nigerian government and indeed all Nigerians to know that a measured indignity to Ike Ekweremadu, an illustrious Igbo and a serving senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a sad denouement to Nigeria and indeed the entire Africa.
He therefore urged the Federal Government of Nigeria led by President Muhammadu Buhari and Mr. Geffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs; Nigeria High Commission in the UK, the Senate and House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to burnish their diplomatic channels in ensuring that Ekweremadu and the wife get the desired assistance by transferring the case to Nigeria.