Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has appealed with England’s Central Criminal Court, also known as the Old Bailey, to temper justice with mercy in the sentencing of convicted Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and his wife Beatrice on May 5.
Last month, after a six-week hearing at the Old Bailey, the couple and their doctor were convicted of organ trafficking in a decision described as the first of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act.
Obasanjo advocated for leniency for the lawmaker and his wife in a letter dated April 3, 2023 and written to the Chief Clerk of the court.
A source verified the letter’s authenticity to Channels Television, adding that the ex-president sent the correspondence privately and not for public consumption.
In it, Obasanjo acknowledged the consequences of the couple’s actions, which he characterized as unpleasant, condemnable, and “unacceptable in any sane or civilized society.”
The former president, on the other hand, voiced his “fervent desire” for the court official to intervene and urged the court and the United Kingdom government to be “magnanimous enough to temper justice with mercy.”
He also argued that the court should allow the unavoidable punishment to take into account the couple’s “good character,” as well as their parental instinct and care.
The judicial official should consider the “very warm” ties between the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ekweremadu’s position as “one of the distinguished Senators in the Nigerian Parliament,” and the ill daughter, according to Obasanjo.
“I do hope Mr. and Mrs. Ekweremadu have learnt from this distressing experience of theirs to guide their future actions or inactions so they will continue to be outstanding members of their community and will continue to contribute fully to the good of the society in particular and the nation in general,” he said.
After a six-week trial at the Old Bailey, Ekweremadu, 60, his wife, Beatrice, 56, and Dr Obinna Obeta, 51, were found guilty on March 23 of facilitating the journey of a young man to Britain with the intent of exploiting him.
The judge, however, cleared the lawmaker’s daughter, Sonia.
The jurors concluded that Ekweremadu, his wife, and their doctor conspired to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London in order to exploit him for his kidney.