Ekweremadu: House Invites Onyeama, Others, Seeks Consular Service For Embattled Senator
The House of Representatives on Tuesday, resolved to invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; acting Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Issa Jere; and Chief Executive Officer of the National Identity Management Commission to brief them on necessary actions so far taken regarding the travails of former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Nwanneka, who are detained London.
The couple was arraigned at the Uxbridge Magistrate Court in London on charges of conspiracy and organ harvest last week.
The House mandated the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the High Commission of Nigeria to the United Kingdom to take all necessary steps possible to ensure that Ekweremadu and his wife are provided with all consular services as they may require at this critical time.
The lawmakers also requested that the agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria and relevant corporate bodies and particularly the National Identity Commission, Nigerian Immigration Service and banks act swiftly to respond to legitimate request for information to facilitate the prompt resolution of the charges against them.
They further urged the Ministry of Health and Nigerian Embassy in UK to provide care for Ekweremadu’s daughter pending the court case.
The resolutions of the lawmakers were sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance sponsored by Hon. Abdullahi Abdulkadir Ningi and seconded by Hon. Haruna Mshelia at plenary.
Moving the motion, Ningi noted the arrest of Ekweremadu, a Nigerian citizen and serving senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, former president of the Nigerian Senate and former deputy speaker of the ECOWAS parliament by the metropolitan police in the United Kingdom.
He said the House is aware that the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have since charged the Ekweremadu’s of offences relating to human trafficking and exploitation and have had them detained pending the determination of the jurisdiction issues by the attorney-general of England and Whales.
He said the intent of his motion is for justice and fairness of all, as from what is happening so far, he feels that all the privileges and status that Ekweremadu is supposed to enjoy has been thrown to the dustbin.
The lawmaker said: “Aware of Senator Ike Ekweremadu unblemished record as a constitutional lawyer, ranking legislator at the highest level in Nigeria, West Africa subregion and various international parliamentary bodies and foremost advocate of the right and dignity of man. Mindful of the value of human life. It is imperative that Miss Ekweremadu who has a life threatening ailment is not allowed to come to arms way due to the unavailability of parental care owing to their continuous detention in the United Kingdom.
“We cannot have a situation where a simple allegation that has not been thoroughly investigated would result in a high ranking public officer who has served and is still serving the Nigeria public, the Nigerian State and he has a diplomatic passport. We cannot allow this to happen. If it can happen to some of Ekwemadu’s status, I wonder what would happen to ordinary Nigerians. Hopeful that the authority in the United Kingdom will work with their national security and intelligence counterpart in Nigeria to conduct a holistic and thorough investigation to ascertain all the fact relating to the allegation in order to make a fair determination on the issues in the best interest of equity and justice for all concerned.”
Contributing, the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu), agreed with the sponsor, saying that someone should not unduly and hastily be put in such a position that he would have suffered some jeopardy before he is found innocent.
“This matter is a matter that has to do with freedom. It has to do with the right and dignity of man. It has to do with justice for all. It has to do with fairness. Mr Speaker, colleagues, you are aware as a lawyer that there is a presumption of innocence and in that presumption, the law deals with reasonable doubt, beyond all reasonable doubt. Even though we are not talking about conviction, the law presupposes you have to hear the other side. And as the facts are emerging, it is very clear or it is an alternative narrative that shows that what may have been relied on in haste may not be the truth. A holder of diplomatic passport, should he not be availed the use of that? More also is the fact that there should also be consular services to Mr Ukpo who is claiming to be a child, so the facts are completely ascertained,” he said.
Earlier, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, was of the view that criminal charge does not constitute a conviction or conclusive proof of guilt, urging the Nigerian High Commission to avail Ekweremadu and his family all necessary defence and support that he will need.
Gbajabiamila disclosed that he spoke with the High Commissioner in the UK, and was assured of his proactiveness in ensuring that all that needs to be done is being done.
He said: “We will all do well to remember that a criminal charge does not constitute a conviction or conclusive proof of guilt. This is merely the beginning of the judicial process to substantiate the fact of the allegation and gather sufficient evidence to sustain the charges there in. Until that process is concluded and even then let us keep in mind that at the heart of this matter, there are human beings and fellow citizens whose lives have taken a turn none of us would every wish for ourselves.
“I ask the Nigerian High Commission to avail Senator Ekweremadu and his family all necessary defence and support that he will need to defend himself. Indeed, I have spoken to the High Commissioner in the UK. I still spoke with him this morning and he has been very proactive. He has done all that needs to be done. The Queen’s Counsel has been made available to Ekweremadu. He has access to him. The Nigerian High Commission is doing all that is necessary to make sure that Senator Ekweremadu is given the full opportunities, rights and privileges that he would need to defend himself.”