Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has written to the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, London pleading for leniency for the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife Beatrice, who were convicted of organ trafficking.
The Ekweremadus were on March 28 convicted by the UK court after their trial on the allegation that they lured a young man from Nigeria to the UK for the purpose of harvesting his kidney for their daughter, Sonia, who needed a kidney transplant.
Following the guilty verdict by the UK court, the Ekweremadus are said to be at risk of being sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment by the provisions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 of the United Kingdom.
The court deferred their sentencing to a later date.
Obasanjo, in a letter dated April 3 and addressed to the Chief Clerk of the court, pleaded to the United Kingdom to temper justice with mercy.
The former president wrote, “Mr Chief Clerk, I am very much aware of the current travails and conviction of Ike Ekweremadu and his wife in the United Kingdom resulting from their being charged with conspiring to arrange the travel of a 21-year old from Nigeria to the UK in order to harvest organs for their daughter.
“I do realise the implications of their action and I dare say, it is unpleasant and condemnable and can’t be tolerated in any sane or civilised society.
“However, it is my fervent desire that for the very warm relations between the United Kingdom and Federal Republic of Nigeria; for his position as one of the distinguished senators in the Nigerian parliament, and also for the sake of their daughter in question whose current health condition is in danger and requires an urgent medical attention, you will use your good offices to intervene and appeal to the court and the Government of United Kingdom to be magnanimous enough to temper justice with mercy and let punishment that may have to come take their good character and parental instinct and care into consideration.
“I do hope Mr and Mrs Ekweremadu have learnt from this distressing experience of theirs to guide their future actions or inaction so they will continue to be outstanding members of their community and will continue to contribute fully to the good of the society in particular and the nation in general.”
Obasanjo, in the letter, also described Ekeremadu as a God-fearing politician whom he said he had known for over two decades.
“Within this period, I have followed and watched, with keen interest, Ike Ekweremadu’s inspiring career which traversed private legal practice and public administration.
“During my administration as a democratically-elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007, Ike Ekweremadu and I had close relationship and interactions as staunch members of our political party, Peoples Democratic Party, and more so as he got elected into the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2003, of which he has since remained a member till date
“I truly cherish his God-fearing, dispassionate, moderate and pan-Nigerian approach to national issues and developments, in our multi-ethnic, multi-religious geo-polity,” Obasanjo said.