BY RICHARD ODU
For several months in anguish, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife had waited in a UK prison to know their fate on a case that had to do with organ harvesting and modern day slavery.
In those days, we recall that their daughter, Sonia, was in deep pain, having to go through dialysis to keep alive as a result of dysfunctional kidneys, the reason for which the senator went in search of a donor, that his daughter may be free.It is hard to fathom the length a man could go for someone he loves so dearly.
In his quest to save his ailing daughter, Ekweremadu contracted a kidney donor, with the connivance of a medical doctor. That deal did not conform to the British law because the donor must be related to the receiver and must be willing.
After some months of trial, the senator, his wife and the doctor were found guilty of practicing modern day slavery. We would not be too quick to question the laws of another country, a country that colonized Nigeria in the past.
Notable, however, is that the Ekweremadu action was only an attempt since the act of organ harvesting had not been perfected. Perhaps it explains why the modern slavery element was more prominent. Those versed in jurisprudence might see it from the prism of law while us laymen must be allowed to exercise our fundamental right of expression.
Strictly, is there a difference between committal and an attempt, and what weight of punishment should they carry?Beyond all that, there seems to be the fear of the existence of a conspiracy to rubbish not just a high-ranking member of the Nigerian government but also the country he represents. Otherwise, why the glee in televising the judgement worldwide? I would not be surprised that many Nigerians would not see it in that light, much more if a few begin to input tribal sentiments into it. The reason is that Nigeria is yet to be a nation in the real story of it. The undue sensation that followed the case was unprecedented, as if a common thief or one notorious serial killer was in the dock.
As a matter of fact,Ekweremadu belongs to the tribe of Nigerian politicians that have incurred the wrath of a vast majority of the people and so might not be considered as deserving of pity. That is why the full weight of public opinion tilted against him. The government of Nigeria must search its conscience to get itself convinced that it did enough to mitigate the effects of the case on Ekweremadu and Nigeria as a nation.
Some other countries would have shaken the UK to the extent that, fearing a diplomatic row, the UK would not have gone to the length of humiliating the people. The efforts of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as well as those of various organizations such as the ECOWAS parliament are commendable. It is nonetheless regrettable that those appeals did not move the judge and his country. Should we now see Britain as the bastion of morality given all the atrocities it had committed all over the globe, using state apparatus?
As Ekweremadu and wife, as well as the doctor intermediary in the crime cool off in prison, we must wait and see what happens next.While we think seriously about what led to the mighty fall of the Number Four citizen of our country, our sixth sense ought to remind us that the man/boy now seen as a victim (or would have been) who implicated Deputy Senate President is a Nigerian. What is the desire of most young Nigerians? To live abroad, elsewhere than Nigeria.
Nigerians have grown of late to view every other country but theirs as their El Dorado, another major indictment on the ruling class. Looking at the case from all ramifications, though, one would be convinced that the man/boy knew why he was flown to the UK. All he told himself was, “let’s get there first”. We know hundreds of thousands of them seeking asylum all over, under various guises. It is common knowledge also that people have been selling their organs for money as poverty has continued to ravage the land. One would be daft to believe that the so-called victim was not told what he was coming to do in the UK, especially that he was not related to the Deputy Senate President.
How could such an uncommon favour to be flown abroad and given a job come to him without a price tag? Ekweremadu, somehow, was naive. He acted distinct from the “jaguda” politicians we have here in Nigeria. Others would have chosen to do the deal in one of the Asian countries where that boy would have been drugged first and before he gets to know it, his kidney would be gone, and he would not even be feeling it. The 15/21 years old boy/man might not be seen through the eyes of the UK law as having committed no offense. But what about the discrepancy in the age he claimed and his real age? Does that suggest vulnerability?
We might not have been fully fed with all the gists of the case. As the facts behind the case keep unfolding, we have no option than to leave everything for God to judge.
Dr. Odu can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org or SMS +2348115711108