The Senate on Wednesday joined the House of Representatives to plead clemency for former Deputy Senate Presidency, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who alongside his wife, Beatrice are awaiting sentencing after having been convicted by the Central Criminal Court, London, United Kingdom, (UK) for offences relating to breach of novel Modern Slavery Act, 2015.
The upper chamber said though the Ejwrremadus are first offenders but there is no ignorance in law, hence the plea that the British court temper justice with mercy.
The couple and a personal physician, Dr Obinna Obeta were in March found guilty of “conspiracy to facilitate and arrange travel with the aim of exploitation,” by an Old Bailey jury.
The distinguished lawmaker will be convicted tomorrow Friday.
The decision by the Senate followed a motion by Senator Chukwuka Utazi, Minority Leader at plenary on Wednesday seeking parliamentary intervention for Ekweremadu who served 12 years as deputy senate president.
Moving the motion, Utazi said given the case of conviction kidney organ harvesting allegation involving an Ebonyi 21 years compliant.
“Whereas the sentencing of the convict was shifted to 6th May 2023, at Old Billy court and following which the senate on the account of the good standing of Sen.Ike Ekweremadu as its former Deputy Senate President for 12 years and the former Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament and considering the enormous contributions he did make in the development of democracy in Nigeria and West Africa and beyond.
“Where as they are seen as a first offenders and they do not have any previous criminal records and considering that Ekweremadu was ignorant of seeking out kidney donor to come to the United Kingdom and even applying to British Government in Abuja for a visa for the donor.
“Whereas the Senate is not happy on the conviction of the Ekweremadus’ and ignorance of the law is not an excuse , but they were faced into this circumstances in a bid to save their dying daughter Sonia.
“This senate is not any way appealing to the conviction of the Ekweremadus’ nevertheless it is joining them in their plea by asking for clemency in the coming sentencing two days away.”
Utazi said “that Clemency may be extended to the Ekweremadus’ considering that all of the convicts are first offenders.
“That the since the matter was in the United Kingdom, that a novel approach in sentencing of the convicts be adopted by tempering justice with mercy, as the publicity already given to the trial was enough warning to the would be offenders in the future.
“That considering the long history of good relationship existing between Nigeria and the British government and considering that this is the first time that the Senate is making this kind of plea on the British government to yield to our request for Clemency for the Ekweremadus’ in their sentencing.”
In his remark, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan said “Distinguished Senator Ike Ekweremadus’ served for 12 years as Deputy Senate President and he put in so much effort to the development of the Parliament across Africa, and in the world, he was not found wanting and so what has happened is very unfortunate .
“I have written a letter to the British judicial authorities about two three weeks ago on behalf of the Senate seeking for Clemency, given the history of Senator Ekweremadu.
“We are now using this particular intervention, to seek for Clemency in the sentencing , the conviction has been done, but we are seeking clemency because this is the first time, our colleague, a patriot, a leader, a great leader, a very peaceful man is getting involved in this kind of thing.
“Had we all known that this will be the case certainly we would not have gone into that kind of situation, because we are law abiding citizens and we respect our country and its laws and laws of other countries.”
Recall that the House of Representatives on Tuesday while seeking clemency, directed the Clerk to the House to write the trial court.
Also the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila directed the Clerk of the House to convey parliament’s plea to the British Embassy in Nigeria for onward transmission to the British Courts and Authorities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian Consulate in Britain and the British Parliament same day.
Adopting the motion, the House urged the Central Criminal Court, UK and the government of the UK to temper justice with mercy in sentencing Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Mrs. Beatrice Ekweremadu.
The House resolution followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by the deputy minority leader, Toby Okechukwu at plenary on Tuesday.