Ekweremadu: Ohanaeze Ndigbo Meets British High Commissioner, Pleads for Leniency
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide yesterday urged the British government to show leniency to the jailed former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
The politician, his wife and their “middleman” were jailed for an organ-trafficking plot, after bringing a man to the UK from Lagos.
Ekweremadu, 60, and his wife, Beatrice, 56, wanted a new kidney for their 25-year-old daughter, Sonia.
The pair and Dr Obinna Obeta, 50, were previously convicted of conspiring to exploit the man.
Ekweremadu, who was described by the judge as the “driving force throughout”, was sentenced to nine years and eight months in prison.
Speaking when the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo received the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr Richard Montgomery at the National Secretariat of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Enugu, one of the leaders of the group, Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, said Ndigbo would be happy should Ekweremadu’s jail term be reduced.
He said: “There is a very important issue that we have to bring to your attention. You’re aware of the case of Nigeria’s former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who was convicted and is in jail in your country.
“He’s from this state and we all know the circumstance he got entangled in that unfortunate incident because he wanted to save his daughter
“He is already serving a jail term. It’s unfortunate, but it has happened. I testified for him during the trial and in fact, the judge mentioned my name two times while delivering his judgment.
“We’re using the opportunity of your visit to ask for leniency for him so that he doesn’t spend the number of years in jail.
“We have accepted the judgment, but are saying if there’s anything that could be done to reduce the jail term, it should be done.”
President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, called for the setting up of a British visa office in the Southeast.
He said the zone accounts for over 60 per cent of Nigerians travelling to the United Kingdom, stressing that it was unfair that they were subjected to travelling to Abuja and Lagos to procure their visa.
Iwuanyanwu, who recalled the long relationship between Nigeria and the British government, also appealed for bilateral collaboration to grow and develop the economy of the Southeast region.
He identified insecurity that has now culminated in Monday-sit-at-home as part of the challenges threatening the region’s economy, saying the new leadership of Ndigbo was working hard to overcome it.
Iwuanyanwu said Ohanaeze Ndigbo would soon set up a business council of prominent businessmen and assured that it would like to collaborate with the UK for mutual economic benefits.
He said Ohanaeze Ndigbo has placed a premium on education and agriculture to engage youths and reduce social malaise in the region.
Montgomery, who said he was on a tour of the Southeast, added that the visit would afford him an opportunity to interact on areas of mutual collaboration with the British government.
He said that the British government would continue to advocate for peace in the country, adding that it was delighted with the development efforts of the Igbo.
Yul Edochie seeks Kanu’s release
Also yesterday, actor Yul Edochie urged President Bola Tinubu to release detained Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
He tweeted via his handle @YulEdochie: “To our leader, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, @officialABAT GCFR, the Jagaban, a man who has fought for democracy for three decades, a builder and supporter of men and women; my president, please release Nnamdi Kanu – a humble request from your son, Yul Edochie.”
Ohanaeze had on May 11 urged former President Muhammadu Buhari to free Kanu as a parting gift to the Southeast.
Iwuanyanwu spoke at the flag-off of the Oguta/Orashi River dredging project in Degema, Imo State.
Kanu was charged with violating the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act 2013.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja struck out the remaining seven charges after Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja had dismissed eight of the 15 amended counts.
The appellate court held that Kanu’s extradition from Kenya in June 2021 was a flagrant violation of Nigeria’s extradition treaty and a breach of the IPOB leader’s fundamental human rights.
It ordered Kanu’s release from the custody of the State Security Service (SSS), where he has been held since he was brought back to Nigeria.
But, the Federal Government appealed to the Supreme Court and was granted leave to file nine new grounds of appeal.
Iwuanyanwu, addressing Vice President Osinbajo, said: “Please, finally, our Vice President, tell our brother and son, President Buhari, that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo – the over 60 million Igbos – request that he should release Nnamdi Kanu.
“He should release Nnamdi Kanu. Igbos are not seceding. I don’t see why anyone will say Igbos are seceding. Igbos are everywhere. We have investments. Are we going to leave our investments?
“So, please, I am passing this message to him, because he is my President in Nigeria, but in the Ohanaeze, he has been honoured by us and he’s a member, so he’s my subject there.
“I am now telling him that Nnamdi Kanu should be released before he (Buhari) departs (on May 29). We’ll be very grateful.”