Some Senior Advocates of Nigeria have said the United Kingdom should exercise caution in dealing with the case of alleged organ trafficking involving a former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice.
Ekweremadu and his wife had been arrested by the Specialist Crime Team of the Metropolitan Police in London for alleged conspiracy to harvest the organs of a child, who is currently in protective custody.
They were arrested on Tuesday at the Heathrow Airport in London en route to Istanbul in Turkey. They were arraigned before a UK Magistrate court on Thursday.
Reacting, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ahmed Raji, said that the allegation against the Ekweremadus was weighty and called for caution, saying 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.”
Similarly, 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. “
A professor of Law at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Prof Joy Ezeilo, said the United Kingdom would grant Ekweremadu a fair trial.
“I trust the UK government. They are very progressive and meticulous in terms of criminal investigation and with regards to trafficking issues, they have a lot of experts.”
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, has expressed support and prayed for former Deputy Senate President and his wife.
He said, “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,” Obi tweeted.
Also, the spokesperson 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.”