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Ike Ekweremadu: The Long Road to Prison



By Eric Elezuo

On face value, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who once served as the Deputy Senate President of the Nigerian eight senate, and one time Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, would be 70 years in the next nine years when he would be expected to be released from prison.

This is because the former lawmaker bagged a nine years, six months jail term after he was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, United Kingdom (UK) for organ trafficking. His wife, Beatrice, did not escape the long arm of the law, as she got six years imprisonment.

It would be recalled that the long walk of the senator to London prison began on June 23, 2022, when the London Metropolitan Police announced that it has arrested Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, for conspiring to bring an alleged 15-year-old boy to the UK for organ harvesting. The kidney donor, one David Nwamini’s travel was said to have been arranged between August 1, 2021, and May 5, 2022, with a view to exploitation, punishable under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015.

The couple were charged the same day at the Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court where they pleaded not guilty and was remanded in custody and the trial adjourned till July 7. What they did not, nor any of their well wishers understood was that a long walk with the legal system, culminating in inglorious incarceration, has just begun.

After a lot of back and forth, and several adjournments, the trial resumed proper on February 3 2023 as the senator and his legal team could not stop influence his daughter’s application to not stand trial with him and her mother for the said “conspiracy to harvest organ”. The charges was thrown out by Justice Jeremiah Johnson.

With the senator sitting hapless in detention, and following proceedings via video link, his daughter, Sonia, 25, was in the dock with her mother, listening to the judge ruled declare that she was not unfit to stand a “criminal trial lasting seven weeks” against the argument of her defence barrister, Femi Oni.

After tabling the application for “stay of proceedings” on the basis that “she’s unfit” medically and psychologically due to her ongoing thrice a week dialysis, both sides of the bench led their expert witnesses in testimonies via video link, beginning with the Manchester-based professor that Oni had lined up.

After being sworn in, the defence asked him: “Did you have an opportunity to get consultation with her before writing his report”, he replied with a “yes.” Asked if he has a report on “what she’s suffering from?” the professor told the court that “she’s developed from a young age, a kidney condition “that led to a gradual dysfunction and consequently, “her life is dependent on dialysis treatment until she has a kidney transplant.”

Led in further testimony, he told the court the treatment has placed a psychological, mental and medical burden on her as it does on other dialysis patients. The professor also relied on the report of a consultant psychiatrist.

Davies, on his part, had Dr Andrews as his expert witness. Though he admitted having not had any direct consultation with Sonia, but did say if the court’s schedule of sitting times was moved to afternoons to accommodate her treatment days, that she’s capable of standing trial. Andrew told the court in his testimony that, ‘the residual symptoms of dialysis does not make it impossible to attend trial.”

After listening to the barristers and their expert witnesses, including their reports, and acknowledging that the treatment takes its toll on her and that she has even had to withdraw from her Masters degree programme after her diagnosis, the judge said it is not confirmed that her recovery or clinical care could suffer if she were to stand trial. He then ruled that accordingly, “the application is dismissed.”

A week later, a Royal Free Hospital dialysis expert who carried out a routine pre-surgical assessment for the kidney donor told the court that he had concerns about his suitability and that he didn’t seem to know the implications of what he had signed up for.

Prosecution witness, Dr David DuPont, said as part of normal clinical practice of interviewing potential donors, so as to be certain they were not being “forced or under duress or coerced nor induced to donate their organ”, he asked Nwamini these and other questions during a face-to-face meeting at the clinic last year February.

Despite the defence put up by Ekweremadu, 60; his wife, Beatrice, 56; and Obeta, 51, the court convicted them for organ trafficking on Thursday, March 23, in the first verdict of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act.

However, the court cleared the lawmaker’s daughter, Sonia.  The jury ruled that Ekweremadu, his wife and their doctor criminally conspired to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney and reserved their sentencing till yesterday when the trio received sentences with Dr. Obeta getting the highest of 10 years.

However, both the Senator and his wife got some discounts and will not serve the entire duration of their terms due to mitigating circumstances that Johnson factored into his judgment. While the senator will serve two thirds of his term, his wife’s term was reduced to four years and six months after factoring in the discounts.

“It’s going to be two thirds” Gary Owen, one of the Senator’s barristers told The Guardian outside the Court after the judgment when asked to clarify the implication of the discount.

On her part, the wife would serve half of her term. So, while the Senator will do about six years, he won’t stay locked up for that much as he’s already been in custody since June 21, 2023, when he was arrested with the wife at Heathrow Airport. She too will spend less than three years, as the time already spent in custody will be deducted.

Additional information from The Guardian.

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Fuel Subsidy Removal: FG, Labour Meeting Ends in Deadlock




Talks between the Federal Government and organised labour over the removal of fuel subsidy ended in a deadlock on Wednesday as they failed to reach a consensus following the hike in petrol pump prices to over N700 from N195 per litre by oil marketers.

The hours-long meeting which was held at the Presidential Villa was to, among other things, prevent a labour crisis following the recent increase in the petrol pump price occasioned by the discontinuance of petroleum subsidy.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited said it had adjusted the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit to reflect the market realities. The agency, however, failed to state the new prices of petrol.

However, several retails outlets sold the product between 600 and N800 in Lagos, Abuja , Ogun and some other states.

The National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, pointed out that the hike in the cost of PMS would trigger galloping inflation in the country, stressing that some outlets in the South-East were currently dispensing the product at N1,200/l.

Ukadike stated, “Once NNPCL retail stations have adjusted their pumps to reflect the new price, there is nothing you can do about it; that is the new price. As I speak with you, all of them are now selling at the new prices. The situation is so bad, that somewhere in Ebonyi State our members informed us that it is now N1,200/litre.

“We thought the President would remove the subsidy through a seamless means because the source of this petrol is the NNPCL. They are the ones subsidising petroleum products, they are the people who use their revenue to subsidise this product.’’

The IPMAN spokesperson expressed worry over the rate of increase in inflation and hardship that would come as a result of the latest hike in petrol price.

“This hike in petrol price will definitely lead to galloping inflation and will worsen the hardship already being faced by the Nigerian masses. It is not something to cheer about. It came as a surprise and in the coming days, we will see the very harsh ripple effects,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ukadike has called on the Federal Government and the NNPCL to give other marketers the opportunity to start importing petrol in order to create competition in the sector.

“The NNPCL is importing and has not given people the opportunity to join them in importing so as to see whether private sector operators can import the product cheaper or not. So there is no competition. In a deregulated regime, there must be competition, everyone with capacity should be allowed to import,” the IPMAN official stated.

When asked whether other marketers could resume imports since the government had finally deregulated petrol prices, Ukadike replied, “Marketers can import, but let me tell you some of the factors militating against this. The first is that there won’t be availability of dollars.

“You will source your dollar from the parallel market and if you are not careful in doing this, and you go into the importation of petroleum products, you might not ‘come out of it alive’ at the end of the day.

“So what we are saying is that those advantages that NNPCL has, should be shared with other major importers of petroleum products. If it is through crude buy-back, they should let us know so that independent players such as IPMAN members can come together and be able to use it in the buy-back model.’’

He added, “For independent marketers, the most important thing is that there should be availability of petroleum products, and the government should open up the space for importers and investors to come in.”

NNPCL, the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria for several years running, confirmed the hike in petrol price in a statement and a new pricing template released to marketers nationwide.

But the move has sparked a groundswell of anger across the nation with the Nigeria Labour Congress demanding an immediate reversal of the decision.

The union also said it would hold an emergency meeting on Friday on the fuel price increase which had triggered hoarding and scarcity across the country with attendant rise in transport fares, goods and services.

The fuel price hike by the oil firm is coming 72 hours after President Bola Tinubu declared in his inaugural address on Monday that the subsidy regime had ended.

To pacify the growing anger over the situation, the FG hastily summoned some labour leaders to a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday evening.

The meeting had in attendance the NLC President, Joe Ajaero and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Festus Osifo, former NLC President and immediate past governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, and others, however, ended in a deadlock as the labour and government teams failed to reach a consensus.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, Joe Ajaero, said “As far as labour is concerned, we didn’t have a consensus in this meeting.”

He faulted the NNPCL over an official release published hours earlier reviewing the petrol pump price in its filling stations nationwide.

He said the move puts the labour unions in a difficult position on the negational table.

“That’s the principle of negotiation. You don’t put the partner, ask them to negotiate under gunpoint. The prayer of the NLC is that we go back to the status quo, negotiate, think of alternatives and all the effects and how to manage the effects this action is going to have on the people. If it is an action that must take off.

“The subsidy provision has been made up to the end of June. And before then, conscious people, labour management, and the government should be able to think of what will happen at the end of June. You don’t start it before the time,” Ajaero said.

The Punch

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Breaking: Founder, DAAR Communications, Raymond Dokpesi is Dead




By Eric Elezuo

The Founder of DAAR Communications, owners of the foremost radio and television stations in Nigeria, Raypower and African Independent Television (AIT), High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, is dead.

Reliable sources said the High Chief died while exercising on a treadmill on Monday afternoon.

The source said Dopkesi suffered a stroke some weeks ago.

Details soon…

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I Stand on Rule of Law, with Our Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, PDP, Says Dele Momodu




By Eric Elezuo

Frontline journalist and Director of Strategic Communications of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Council in the just concluded Presidential election, Chief Dele Momodu, had said that he remains a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and will always stand on the side of rule of law, and with the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Momodu made the revelations in a statement he signed himself, noting that the last election, which brought Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to power, was savagely manipulated by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

He praised the steps Atiku, and the presidential candidate of the Labour candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, have taken in seeking legal redress.

The statement in details:


My position on the state of our country NIGERIA is simple and straightforward. I’m a loyal member of PDP who owes absolute allegiance to Nigeria and its Rule of Law. My political party PDP and others passionately hold the view that the last Presidential election was savagely manipulated by the ruling party APC and the cases are already in courts. Nothing will make me abandon my party on the altar of convenience and profit. Win or lose, I will continue to stand on this principle without any malice or prejudice against those who think otherwise. Democracy is a game of choice and I’m resolutely standing by our candidate, the former Vice President ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR (GCON) who has taken the honorable and peaceful step of going to court to seek redress. This is the only way we can deepen our hard earned Democracy. Sacrifice is not always convenient but painful.

I salute and respect The Wazirin Adamawa and others like my dear friend and Brother, former Governor Peter Obi, the Labor Party Presidential candidate, for promoting the best tenets of Democracy in Nigeria and I’m willing to encourage them rather than discourage their onerous quests…


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