CHUKS NWEZE in Enugu writes that Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s London arrest, detention and prosecution over allegation of organ harvesting, came like a bolt from the blue, which has left friends as well as foes cheering and jeering, respectively
The shocker news
The news came like a thunderbolt and before Nigerians could swallow the bitter pill, it has gathered momentum having spread like wild fire across the land, aided mainly by the social media and other international news sources.
According to the scanty story at that time, in Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s effort to effect kidney transplant for his ailing daughter, Sonia Ekweremadu, he had allegedly procured a supposed minor, another Nigerian, Master David Ukpo from Ebonyi state who on getting to London bolted way to raise alarm to the law enforcement agencies of that country.
No one could immediately ascertain the veracity of the allegation but before could say Jack Robinson, the senator and wife Beatrice were being tried in London and were eventually detained where they have been since June 21, 2022 before Mrs Ekweremadu was eventually granted bail.
The cheers and jeers
Since the beginning of his ordeal, it has been potpourri of feelings back home in Nigeria. While good spirited Nigerians, especially, Igbo men and women, deeply touched by the unfortunate development have been showing concern to the extent that some even volunteered to hire lawyers to defend him in London, others, however, seem to be saying ‘it served him right’ and scheming to take over his position.
Surprisingly, an Igbo group, Voice from the East, VEAST, was the first to blame the lawyer cum serving lawmaker for being the architect of his travail.
According to the convener of VEAST, Comrade Kindness Jonah, Ekweremadu should have carried a Nigerian medical personnel along who would have offered the best idea that would have prevented the sad development in the first place.
Jonah said that Ekweremadu ought have known the prevailing law in the United Kingdom concerning kidney transplant and kidney donation before embarking on what has turned out to appear like a shoddy deal since there is a claim that the donor was a minor. He maintained that if Ekweremadu had done the necessary arrangements, the story would have been different.
“How can you do a kidney transplant without taking cognisance of the law? He never carried the Nigerian medical personnel along. That would have helped him. He only transported the boy to UK without reference to the Nigerian medical certification,” he said.
The VEAST convener said that notwithstanding Ekweremadu’s oversight, “the Nigerian government should do something to save her citizen bearing in mind that Ekweremadu is a prominent politician and a parliamentarian of repute.”
He reasoned that some Britons may have committed one offence or the other in Nigeria but they were glossed over and this as well should be overlooked to maintain the conviviality existing between Nigeria and Britain.
“The Nigerian Government should come full force and should not leave him alone. They should stand between him and jail. Many Britons have contravened Nigerian laws in the past yet they were spared. The British Government should tamper Justice the law. What is good for the goose should equally be good for the gander,”
He, therefore, suggested that Ekweremadu should be repatriated to be tried in Nigeria.
But taking a different angle, the Ohanaeze Youth Council, urged not only the Nigerian government but ECOWAS also, to intervene since Ekweremadu held a prominent office in the ECOWAS Parliament.
To the president Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike, “the Nigerian government should do everything humanly possible to see that her citizen did not suffer unjustly in a foreign land and to bear in mind the diplomatic immunity Ekweremadu should enjoy as a prominent lawmaker in Nigeria.”
In July, the leaders and elders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, led by Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, buoyed by their strong desire to see the ex Deputy Senate President off the hook, wrote to the Senate hierarchy to do something to save their colleague.
Iwuanyanwu, a chieftain of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, who authored the letter, pointed out that they were pained that one of the illustrious sons was in trouble and ought to be assisted. Iwuanyanwu said: “We are angry about the whole saga about one of our illustrious sons, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
“The news about the arrest of the former Deputy Senate President with his wife in a far away London was received with shock in many places, especially, within the rank and file of the umbrella body of all Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo where he, Ekweremadu, is a very active member.
“We do not have any doubt whatsoever that the truth will emerge and our son and his wife will be vindicated. We are, however, happy and profoundly appreciative of your solidarity with your colleague and friend during his trying period. We also pray that the Almighty God will visit the daughter of Ekweremadu who is sick,” Iwuanyanwu wrote.
Subsequently, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide leadership even promised to send a delegation to London composed of a team of legal luminaries to fight on Ekweremadu’s behalf.
Touched by their kinsman’s ordeal, Mpu community in Aninri local government area of Enugu state, where Ekweremadu hails from, was moved to shut their market in solidarity with their brother.
In reaction to the London ordeal of their son, President General of the community, Chief Oshimiri Ude maintained that Ekweremadu is one of their illustrious sons that has done so much for the development of their community and should not suffer unduly.
He further said, “Senator Ekweremadu is our illustrious son. Without him, our world seems shattered. We know he didn’t commit any crime. This man with a heart of gold, who has transformed our communities and many communities in Enugu West and beyond.
“We are committing Mpu community primarily to God, thanking him for the good things he has done for the land and asking for divine intervention in the trouble surrounding our brother.
“Senator Ekweremadu who has been away from the shores of Nigeria since June 21, 2022 for an allegation that has no basis,” the Community laments.
Uguwanyi calls for prayers
The Enugu State Government was not left out in outpouring of with the embattled Senator ensconced in a harrowing experience in London because of his daughter’s ailment.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, through his SSA Media, Mr. Louis Amoke said that the government is saddened by what is happening to Senator Ekweremadu.
“The government and the people of Enugu state are saddened by the unpleasant news of arrest, arraignment and subsequent remand in custody of Senator Ekweremadu. In this difficult time, we beseech the most merciful God to grant accelerated healing to Miss Sonia Ekweremadu,” Ugwuanyi prayed.
However, when the matter continued to linger, Governor Ugwuanyi was forced to commit the matter into the hands of God as he had handed over the entire Enugu state into the hands of God.
Ugwuanyi made the declaration when the leaders of Oganiru Enugu support group of Senator Ekweremadu formally collapsed their structure to support Peter Mbah, the Enugu PDP governorship candidate for 2023.
While enjoining them to ensure that all the PDP candidates in their areas won, he urged them to book a mass for Ekweremadu and the family, saying that it was pertinent to “show love to someone when he or she is not around for any reason or the other.”
Scheming to replace him as Senator
However, while others are empathising with Ekweremadu and family, one of the aspirants who contested the Enugu West Senatorial seat with Ekweremadu in 2019, Barr. Ogochukwu Agabus Umunnakwe Onyema, aka OAU, rather wants to replace Ekweremadu in the Red Chambers due to absence.
Onyema said that he was acting in good faith and for the common good of his constituency, Enugu West senatorial district.
in an interview, the aspiring lawmaker told newsmen that his interest was to see that Enugu West is represented in the Senate because the lack of representation was costing Enugu West a great deal.
“Our interest in this particular thing is that we, the Enugu West are losing a lot and we ought to be represented. It is unfortunate that the position cannot be delegated and he does not have a deputy or an assistant that can hold on until he returns.
“Despite that, the Senate will not wait for him and we’ll continue to lose. What brought about our main worry is not ambition to replace Ekweremadu but the frustration that we are not likely to have a representative until the end of the 9th Senate unless the 3rd defendant, Ekweremadu is replaced.
“The reason being that the Metropolitan Court handling the Senator’s matter brought out a trial schedule showing that our Senator was not granted bail and that his trial will commence on 28th day of May, 2023, just a day before the end of Buhari administration. It will therefore be foolhardy of us not to start making hares while the sun shines so that our people can get representation,” he reasoned.
From the look of things, unless something drastic is done, either the UK court embarks on accelerated hearing, or the Nigerian Government go for a political solution in the matter, the Enugu West senatorial district may have to continue without a representative in the Red Chambers as reasoned by OAU Onyema.
Worse still, Ekweremadu’s ailing daughter, Sonia may have continued to suffer without getting the needed medical care.