By Emeka Ugwuonye , Esquire
When a lot of people were screaming that the assumed organ donor in Ekweremadu’s case had lied about his age, that he was 21, instead of 15, I told all of you:
(1) That by the nature of the charges and the law involved, the age of the victim was irrelevant and would make no difference on the fate of Ekweremadu.
(2) That by the tenor of the charges and the relevant laws under which they were brought, Ekweremadu faces a jeopardy with profound gravity.
(3) That by the facts of the case, Ekweremadu would not be granted bail yet because of the possibility of him interfering with evidence. When the Government of Ebonyi State invited the family of the boy, I told you the British prosecutors would view that in a light disfavorable to Ekweremadu.
(4) Also, I predicted that he was likely to be convicted: that those things you thought were favorable to Ekweremadu such as his letter to the British High Commion requesting for visa for the boy were actually evidence against Ekweremadu, confirming that he “procured the travel” of the boy, and that he was powerful enough to control things.
Indeed, all my predictions (with the exception of his conviction) have come to pass, rather quickly. Sometimes, I wish some of my readers could understand that I mostly write on matter of which I have deep insight and considerable experience. And much of the time, I am sharing freely opinions that ought to have been paid highly for. I still remember those who argued ignorantly, focusing on irrelevant things and assuming that Ekweremadu would be out soon. Even some ignorant Nigerian Senators wasted money and trooped to London believing that anybody in his right mind would notice them. Now, look at how silent and disappeared they have become just within few weeks.
Ekweremadu’s case will come up for mention again in October. There is no pending bail application. So, he can’t be expected to be granted bail before October. And really, nothing will change between now and May next year when trial is expected to begin that will justify any change in the bail decision. The fact that no bail is pending now is an indication that his lawyers do not believe that bail could be granted yet.
Also, I must remind the reader that I predicted very early in this case that Ekweremadu’s political career has been upended by the charges. It is now obvious that Ekweremadu will likely never return to Nigeria as serving Senator. He will be in the UK facing these charges by the time his current tenure runs out in May next year. In fact, if Ekweremadu is well advised, he should promptly resign from the Senate, thus making room for an immediate replacement. Leaving the people of Enugu West without any representation in the Senate for 12 months will not commend him well to history.
Now, I can see another glaring mistake being made by some commentators on this case. They are talking about diplomatic immunity for Ekweremadu because he was traveling with “diplomatic passport”. Their ignorance has no limits. Any government official or even World Bank staff (like myself once) could have such diplomatic passport. It does not confer on the bearer diplomatic immunities, especially immunity against prosecution. It merely facilitates your clearance by immigration and airlines when you travel. If Nigerian Senators believe that by carrying such passports they have been clothed with diplomatic immunities exclusively reserved for diplomats, members of foreign mission, then their ignorance could not be greater.
Ekweremadu is a Senator. He enjoys no immunity from prosecution. Whether he could have enjoyed some protection on the principles of commity is another issue. But given the nature of the offenses he is charged with, it would be most unlikely that British government would like to accord him any such protection. After all, in the teo previous cases of recent time when two high profile Nigerian politicians (Governor Ibori of Delta State and the Governor of Bayelsa State) were prisecuted in London, Nigerian Government begged British Government not to try to send them back to Nigeria. Nigerian Government on those two occasions practically said to the UK Government: “Please, our county’s judiciary is corrupt. Don’t send these men to us for trial. Otherwise, they will escape justice”. Thus, Britain must have taken notice that powerful Nigerians should be tried outside Nigeria, whenever they are caught outside Nigeria.
Finally, the only basis for the British to let Ekweremadu off the hook would have been on the ground that the offences in question began in one country (Nigeria) and ended in another country (United Kingdom). That means that Ekweremadu could be prosecuted in either country. There is a procedure under which the British Attorney General could have recommended that he be tried in the other country if the balance of convenience favored the accused being tried in the other country. But this is not the case for such consideration. First, the evidence of the case is mostly located in the UK. That is; the victim is alive and in the UK, the doctors who found out that the boy did not give consent are in the UK, the doctor who connived with Ekweremadu is in the UK and is now his co-accused. Besides, Nigerian Government never indicated any intention to try Ekweremadu in Nigeria and did not request Britain to extradite Ekweremadu. It was clear to me from the beginning that this option was not available to Ekweremadu.
The story of Ekweremadu is about the sudden rise and sudden collapse of an ordinary man. It is a pity that by this time next two years, Ekweremadu may have been deleted from the minds of most people even in his own State. And that is because Ekweremadu never used his power for the benefit of the people. He used it to amass wealth and influence. Otherwise, who misses him now? Nobody outside his family and friends. I’m writing this piece from Enugu, where I have been for the past two days. I was expecting the common folks to be talking about Ekweremadu. But unfortunately, nobody mentions him. The mechanics, the Uber drivers, those who sell roasted corn by street junctions, etc: when I dropped Ekweremadu’s name trying to make a conversation, it was as if I mentioned a foreign name. The attitude of the people is as if Ekweremadu’s palaver is not their concern at all. What a tragedy!
Written by Bar. Emeka Ugwuonye