In response to Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife’s conviction, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has addressed a letter to the Chief Clerk of the Central Criminal Court in London urging him to balance justice with mercy.
Recall that Ekweremadu, his wife, and a Nigerian doctor, Obinna Obeta, were recently convicted guilty of attempting to steal the organs of a Nigerian who was smuggled to Britain in order to provide them a kidney for their daughter who was ill.
In the letter dated April 3 and addressed to The Chief Clerk, the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, London, titled “Re: Ike Ekweremadu,” Obasanjo stated that although Ekweremadu’s action was condemnable and unacceptable, he had contributed his fair share to the sociopolitical development of Nigeria. He further added that his punishment should take into account his prior good deeds and the plight of his sick daughter.
According to a post by vanguard, the letter read: “It is with great pleasure that I write in respect of Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who I have 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. I recall, with fond memories, the beginnings of our political and social relationship at the outset of our collective quest for democratic rebirth for our fatherland.
“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, PDP, 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..
“Within this period of his service in the Nigerian Parliament, he has served as Deputy Senate President of the Senate and has headed so many committees in various capacities and brought to bear his broad-based experience in legal practice and public administration.
“Sometime in 2009, he was appointed as the First Deputy of the Economic Community of West African States, and lead ad hoc Committee to work for the return of ECOWAS B constitutional order in the Niger Republic.
“I clearly remember that in the heady days of the keen contest for the presidential ticket of our Party early 1999, he joined other well-meaning Nigerians from the South-Eastern part of Nigeria to set aside extraneous considerations and ensured that South East unanimously adopted me for the Presidency. ”This was without regard to the fact that my closest competitor hailed from their part of the country. 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.
“He dedicates himself to the service of God and humanity and he continues to play visible roles in national development. Through the Ikeoha Foundation, a non-governmental organization founded by him and his wife, in 1997, he and his wife have rendered a lot of charitable activities, enhancing poor people’s access to quality education and healthcare and building their capacity to participate in mainstream social, political and economic activities of their communities.
“lke Ekweremadu’s conferment with the coveted national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR, is further testimony to his selfless service to our country, Nigeria.
“Mr. Chief Clerk, I am very much aware 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 realize the implications of their action and I dare say, it is unpleasant and condemnable and can’t be tolerated in any sane or civilized 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 the 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 inactions so they will continue to be outstanding members of their community and will continue to contribute fully to the good of the society”.