Ekweremadu’s Conviction and the Lessons of Integrity
The case of David Okemini Ugbo’s organ trafficking plot preferred against Senator Ike Ekweremadus, a popular Nigerian politician and former deputy president of the Senate, his wife Beatrice and Obinna Obeta – a medical doctor in the United Kingdom came to a sad conclusive end on May 5 with the conviction of the three by a judge at the central criminal court also known as old Bailey. Ekweremadu aged 60 bagged a jail term period of nine years and eight months. His wife will serve four years and a fraction of months while Obeta – the doctor was jailed for ten years. The jail terms run concurrently for both Ike and wife. The three were sentenced for arranging the traveling of a young Nigerian man with a view to exploiting him – organ harvest.
My heart and that of many Nigerians goes to the Ekweremadus. This is undoubtedly a sad and trying moment for them, friends, relations and well-wishers. No parent with or without the wherewithal of the Ekweremadus will bear the pain and anguish of his sick or dying child when there is a possible way out. Suffice it to say that parents can go all the hog to improve and save their children in danger especially in danger of ill health. And the Ekweremadus are not any exception. This makes them responsible parents. The case which once kicked off on an optimistic note unfortunately culminated into a sad and disgraceful end. It was an anti-climax of a supposed event to save and improve a human life – the life of their lovely daughter Sonia who urgently need a kidney transplant. With this ugly development, the life of young Sonia is in dire and compounded strait. Her hope of quick treatment and recovery is hanging on a balance or completely dashed with no reprieve at hand while her parents are in jail simply for an autistic parental efforts to save their sick daughter. Already Sonia is worried. She noted in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that; “she disagrees with the conviction even though she understands it. However, she lamented that, “things will not remain the same following her parent’s conviction adding that she feels guilty because everything happened because of her.”
Numerous views and opinions have been shared on this matter but one stands out. The legal perspective of Emeka Ugwuonye, a human right lawyer on his facebook page entitled, “The missing facts about Ike Ekweremadu’s Case” for me took the medal out of others. He wrote and I quote, “…it was actually when Ekweremadu and Dr. Obinna attempted to return David to Nigeria that the problem started. David expected that he would be given a job in London as he was told before he left Nigeria. They did not give him job and they did not send him to school. Instead of all he was promised, he was asked to prepare to return to Nigeria and David ran away from the house where he was kept. To win the immediate protection of the police, he lied about his age by telling them that he was 15. One of the key factors that worked against Ike Ekweremadu was that he lied. On three official documents he signed, he stated that David was Sonia’s cousin. But in all the WhatsApp chats with the doctor and his own brother on the matter, he referred to David as “that guy…” For instance, it was at the police station that they asked him if he was paid money and he said yes he was paid N270,000 When the police checked the WhatsApp chats between Ekweremadu and Dr. Obeta, they realized Ekweremadu actually paid 4.5 million for Obeta to pay to David. But Obeta only paid David N270, 000 and pocketed the rest…”
It must be stated clearly that the Ekweremadus seem to have overtly or covertly deceived David and took advantage of his vulnerability and the precarious situation in Nigeria. But David finding himself in the UK was offered an opportunity non-existent in Nigeria – he exploited the situation to his advantage. This was possible because the law is not a respecter of persons in that country. It makes a lot of difference unlike what is obtainable in Nigeria. Many people strongly believe that the likes of Ike are in the league of their own in Nigeria. Therefore, it is practically impossible to arrest him let alone sentence or jail him. He would have invoked the powers at his disposal, bribed a security or judicial officer, call on his friends in the corridors of powers to intervene and the matter is dead on arrival. David has raised concerns regarding his safety if returned to Nigeria. He said, “I worry for myself in Nigeria. Those people can do anything. I think they could arrest me or kill me in Nigeria.” It is advised that the UK government should take necessary measures regarding this safety concerns. His life matters. David is the exploited and underdog here.
The case under review has once again brought to light the struggling state of health system in Nigeria. There is no gain reiterating the fact that it is horrible, deplorable and abysmally poor. Nigerian citizens have had to contend with the poor health care delivery system for ages and the end is not yet in sight. Those in government and the well to do Nigeria see nothing wrong in abandoning a sector meant to improving the lives of ordinary citizens. They fly abroad whenever the need arises for the health concerns of their families leaving majority at the cross-road to suffer and perish. Yet many like Ike Ekweremadu have spent over two decades in government and in making laws for the nation still saw no reason why health and health infrastructure should be a national priority. People have alluded to the fact that it was the law of Karma in action. Be that as it may, God has a unique way of pulling the ear of his sinful sons to drive home bitter lessons. For the Ekweremadus, he chose to do it disgracefully in a far-away land where the lesson will potently manifest, rebound and reverberate all over the world. This is not only a lesson for the Ekweremadus but for all of us especially those who God gave the power to superintend over the affairs of men but chose to throw away their responsibilities together with the basic needs of humanity. This conviction is absolutely a lesson for integrity and engagement in lawful and transparent business.
Sunday Onyemaechi Eze is a Media and Development Communication Specialist. He can be reached via email@example.com and 08060901201