Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has written a letter appealing for leniency in the sentencing of Nigerian Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, ahead of their conviction by London’s Central Criminal Court for organ trafficking.
The court convicted the couple and a doctor last month for facilitating the travel of a young man from Lagos to Britain for organ trafficking, an action forbidden under the Modern Slavery Act of the UK. Ekweremadu and his wife allegedly offered up to N3.5 million to obtain the body part for their sick daughter, who is suffering from kidney failure and requires a transplant to stay alive.
In his letter dated April 3, 2023, Obasanjo described the couple as “God-fearing” Nigerians who have used their position in society to better humanity and continue to play visible roles in national development.
He urged the Clark of the London Central Criminal Court to appeal for leniency in the sentence of the trio on compassionate grounds. Obasanjo highlighted the charitable activities of the Ikeoha Foundation, a non-governmental organization founded by the couple in 1997, which has enhanced poor people’s access to quality education and healthcare and built their capacity to participate in mainstream social, political and economic activities of their communities.
He also noted that Ekweremadu’s conferment with the coveted national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR, is further testimony to his selfless service to Nigeria.
While acknowledging the unpleasant and condemnable nature of Ekweremadu and his wife’s action, Obasanjo appealed for mercy and for their good character and parental instinct and care to be taken into consideration.
He also hoped that the couple had learned from their experience and would guide their future actions or inactions to continue to be outstanding members of their community and contribute fully to the good of society and the nation.