Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has pleaded with the Central Criminal Court of England, otherwise known as the Old Bailey, to temper justice with mercy in the May 5 sentencing of convicted Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu; and his wife Beatrice.
After a six-week trial at the Old Bailey, last month, the couple and their doctor were convicted of organ trafficking in a ruling said to be a first of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act.
In a letter dated April 3, 2023 and addressed to the Chief Clerk of the court, Obasanjo advocated for leniency for the lawmaker and his wife.
A source confirmed the authenticity of the letter to Channels Television, adding that the ex-president sent the correspondence privately and that it was not intended for the public.
In it, Obasanjo acknowledged the implications of the couple’s action, which he described as unpleasant, condemnable, and “can’t be tolerated in any sane or civilized society”.
However, the former president expressed his “fervent desire” for the court official to intervene and appeal to the court and the government of the United Kingdom to be “magnanimous enough to temper justice with mercy”.
He further appealed that the court would let the inevitable punishment take the “good character” of the couple, as well as their parental instinct and care into consideration.
According to Obasanjo, the considerations for the judicial official to consider are the “very warm” relations between the United Kingdom and Federal Republic of Nigeria; Ekweremadu’s position as “one of the distinguished Senators in the Nigerian Parliament”; and the ill daughter.
“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.
On March 23, Ekweremadu, 60; his wife, Beatrice, 56; and Dr Obinna Obeta, 51, were found guilty of facilitating the travel of a young man to Britain with a view to his exploitation after a six-week trial at the Old Bailey.
However, the lawmaker’s daughter, Sonia, was cleared by the court.
The jury said 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.
See the full letter below: