The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to intervene in the trial of former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who is accused of attempting to harvest an organ from one David Nwamini in the United Kingdom.
Ohanaeze stated this in a press release on Sunday in response to Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami’s statement that the federal government will not intervene in the matter.
The group disagreed with Malami in a statement titled ‘Ekweremadu: Ohanaeze disagrees with Malami, calls for FG intervention,’ signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, adding that the government has intervened in matters involving Nigerians abroad, such as that of Ekweremadu.
Ohanaeze also stated that any humiliation meted out to the Nigerian lawmaker is an injury to Nigeria as a whole, and it urged the government to intervene and bring the case to the country.
“The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has disagreed with the statement attributed to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, that “the Federal Government of Nigeria will not interfere with any local or international legal battle involving the former Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, who is currently facing trial in the United Kingdom for alleged organ harvest.”
“Malami disclosed this to journalists on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, during the 46th Session of the State House Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team.” The AGF went on to say that “it has never been the Nigerian government’s tradition to interfere in anything judicial, local, or international.”
“According to Hanaeze, cultural relativism is an important factor in international relations.” It implies that the norms and values of one culture should not be compared to those of another. Indeed, the mosaic of cultures and the freedom of groups or nations to exercise their cultural rights are the foundations of international relations. Sovereigns typically intervene to save their citizens in foreign countries.
“In the case of Ekweremadu, it should be remembered that the former Deputy President of the Senate wrote to the UK High Commission to support the visa application of a “donor” identified as David Ukpo Nwamini.” Mr. Ukpo was undergoing “medical investigations for a kidney donation to his daughter,” according to Ekweremadu’s letter. The full name of the UK hospital was also given, and nothing suspicious was mentioned.
“The letter from Ekweremadu to the British Embassy was unequivocal.” He stated the reason for his trip and asked the Embassy to grant Mr Ukpo a visa for the stated reason. We consider Ekweremadu’s full disclosure to be evidence of non-criminal intent.
“We are persuaded to join Sadiq Obanoyen and others in asking if it was not unconscionable, if not a conspiracy, on the part of the British government to issue a visa to David Nwamini despite the Senator’s full disclosure that Nwamini was travelling to the UK for organ donation, but only to do 360 degrees and charge the Senator and his wife for facilitating illegality?” In other words, would it not have been more fair and just to deny Nwamini a visa in the first place, citing UK modern slavery legislation, given that the UK is not known for being so generous with visas to Nigerians?
“It is worth noting that Ekweremadu’s letter and intentions were founded on the principles of cultural relativism, which emphasises that a “person’s beliefs and conducts should be understood in light of that person’s own culture.”
“For example, every dispassionate Nigerian understands that organ harvesting has become a Nigerian tradition over the years, and it is not considered illegal as long as the parties involved agree.”
“In the context of cultural relativism and the premium placed on their citizens’ welfare and national pride, countries deploy diplomatic weights and resources to ensure their citizens obtain justice and even reprieve in a foreign land, regardless of the gravity of the offence.”
“A few examples may suffice: a) The British Government intervened in the case of an ex-British serviceman, Captain Simon Mann, and the son of the late British Prime Minister, Sir Mark Thatcher, who were both charged in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Equatorial Guinea in connection with a planned coup in the Central African country in 2004.”
“b) Samantha Orobator, a British citizen, was arrested in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in 2008 on suspicion of drug trafficking, and her case was later transferred to the United Kingdom.”
“c) In the widely publicised case involving a US citizen, Brittney Griner, the Women’s National Basket Ball Association (WNBA) star who was on drug-related trial in Moscow. Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, revealed that the US had offered Russia a deal aimed at transferring the case to the US. Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence in Russia for spying, is also included.
“d) At home, in late 2018 and early 2019, Nigeria used all of its diplomatic clout to secure the release of Ms. Zainab Aliyu Kila, a Nigerian lady, from a Saudi Arabia prison for alleged drug trafficking. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the President’s then-Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Affairs, stated explicitly that the President had directed the AGF, Malami, and other key government agencies to intervene.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo believes that Ekweremadu’s case should not be treated differently, especially given Nigeria’s longstanding cordial relations with the UK and the fact that all of the individuals involved in the UK case are Nigerian nationals.”
“Once the political will is there, there is nothing beyond diplomatic redemption.”
“It’s odd that the AGF is referring to Nigeria’s “Child Rights Act” more than a month after the UK Court ruled that the “donor” is not a child.” One would expect Nigeria to be scandalised by the British authorities’ initial contempt in dismissing an official document from Nigeria based on the “donor’s” age in the first place, and to be disrespected by the continued refusal to grant Ekweremadu bail for a clearly bailable offence.
“We believe Nigeria would never receive the same treatment as a British parliamentarian of Ekweremadu’s calibre.”
“Ohanaeze believes that Ike Ekweremadu served Nigeria meritoriously in various capacities while in the Senate, including as Deputy President of the Senate, Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and was decorated with the service honour of the Commander of the Federal Republic-CFR.”
“The Nigerian government, and indeed all Nigerians, should understand that a measured indignity to Ike Ekweremadu, an illustrious Igbo and a serving senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a sad conclusion for Nigeria and indeed Africa.”
“We urge the Federal Government of Nigeria, led by President Muhammadu Buhari and Mr. Geffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Nigeria High Commission in the United Kingdom; the Senate and House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to strengthen their diplomatic channels in ensuring that Ekweremadu and his wife receive the necessary assistance by transferring the case to Nigeria.”