Ohanaeze aligns with Obi as SANs call for caution in Ekweremadus' trial

Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, were arraigned in the UK over alleged organ trafficking crime.

Senator Ike Ekweremadu and daughter, Beatrice Nwanneka. [Business Day]

The Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has aligned itself with the comment made by the Labour Party Presidential candidate, Peter Obi, on the allegation of organ trafficking involving former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice.

Pulse reports that Ekweremadu and Beatrice were arrested following investigation by the Specialist Crime Team of the Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom who suspected that the couple were plotting to harvest the organs of a minor.

A letter signed by Ekweremadu had indicated that the child, who is currently in protective custody in the UK, would be travelling to donate his organ to the senator's sick daughter.

However, the couple were accosted and taken into custody on arrival at the Heathrow Airport in London en route to Istanbul in Turkey on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

They were arraigned before the Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

While reacting to the Ekweremadus' travail, Obi had expressed support and prayed for the family.

He said in a tweet that, “My family and I are with the Ekweremadu’s over their travail. We join all men of goodwill in praying for the healing of their daughter and commit them into God’s hand for justice to be done,”

In his reaction, the spokesman for Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, said, “Our position is Peter Obi’s position. We are with the family. That is Ohanaeze’s position.”

Some Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) have asked the UK to exercise caution in dealing with the Ekweremadus case.

Commenting on the development, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ahmed Raji, told The Punch that although the allegation against the Ekweremadus was weighty, the couple deserved the benefit of the doubt.

Raji said, “I have not seen the English statutes but I recall that it must be an offence that would come with a guilty mind – that you are setting out to commit a crime.

“But from the letter which Senator Ekweremadu wrote to the Embassy, it is clear that he was not trying to engage in something illegal.

“He made it very clear that this guy was going there to assist with a procedure, and that clearly shows that it was not something done secretly.

“He didn’t say the purpose of taking the boy there is A and went to do B over there. In fact, from that letter, I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt.”

In a similar vein, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, said, “I think some people are trying to set up that man. With the letter that we saw written to the British Embassy, it was clear why he was going to London and why the young man was also going to London.”

However, another senior lawyer, Yusuf Ali, SAN, said the facts of the case and the extant laws which were being cited had to be made bare to the public.

He said, “You cannot assume that we run the same common law. They are more advanced than we are in terms of lawmaking. Unless we know the laws they will be relying on, it may be difficult to give a professional opinion. Here, we arrest people and await evidence. There, the pieces of evidence are already on the ground before arrests are made. I wouldn’t know what they got. We all have to be cautious in this matter.“

Ekweremadu and Beatrice will appear again before the Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court for continuation of their trial on July 7, 2022.

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