In this concluding piece from Justice with a pinch of salt, Philip Oak suggests an intersection between justice and politics from the bench.
Who is after the Ekweremadus? The answer likely lies in the risks inherent in that high political status, which invariably bears the danger of high-caliber fallouts and friction. The deafening silence of the Nigerian Federal Government over this case certainly gives a lot of cause for pause, and for concern for the plausibility of some profit-driven, deep-state machinations between the UK authorities and powerful interests in Nigeria.
There are several inconsistencies with these assertions. Firstly, David Ukpo lied right off the bat to the authorities about his age: a blazing red flag. He was ultimately proven to be 21, as the Ekweremadus had asserted from the onset, and not the lie of his being 15 years old that he had fed to the police. Indeed, this egregious lie was the original ground for the arrest of the Ekweremadus: conspiring to traffic a minor for the purpose of organ transplanting, a far more grievous offence internationally. That ignominious lie both betrayed Mr. Ukpor’s innate treacherousness of character and exposed a considerable awareness on his part of the deep intricacies of the Red Market, of the lethal efficacy of the legal venom towards the Ekweremadus in his claiming to be a minor. It is extremely curious that given these lapses in his façade, and given organ trafficking laws that are inclusive of punishment even for the organ donor, Mr. Ukpor still went on to become the protected darling of the prosecution.
Justice Johnson, in layering the gravel on the case, claimed that there were several indicators in the index case of organ trafficking that the clinicians at the Royal Free Hospital failed to take note of and that he supports suggested changes to existing legislation towards correcting these. This is enormously rich – from a judge in a country with one of the harshest, longest and most brutal profiles in the annals of the global illegal organ trade. They apparently needed this most benign of cases to wake them up to that reality? Wow. The bewilderments continue. The Judge’s report loudly claimed that the donor was not told he was going to donate a kidney. Yet the report shot itself in the foot by asserting from the other corner of its mouth that Mr. Ukpor was lured to the UK to donate his kidney for reward! Which is it?! He either did not know he was coming for kidney transplantation, and therefore no reward could have been discussed, or he knew he was coming for a kidney transplant and is equally culpable under the strict laws that proscribe doing so for profit.
Mr. Ukpor’s disingenuousness therefore (and apparent “surprise” at the police station at being informed he was in the UK for kidney donation), is a blatant ruse that the prosecution chose, for deep, dark reasons, to willfully ignore and even obscure. Just as darkly, Justice Johnson drummed heavily but very deceptively on the post-transplant risks after kidney donation. Again, this was a blatant deception. Not only do healthy humans need no more than half of the renal capacity of one kidney to sustain good health but the surgical risk of kidney harvesting is no more than 0.005 percent i.e. one in every 20,000 patients operated upon, the same as with any basic surgery such as say for example, after a successful caesarean section.
The Law is at its finest when it functions, in appropriate measures, as the hammer of karma. It is at its most asinine when it is wielded as a cudgel in some deep, dark capitalist calculus. Accepting this manner of justice should always be with a big, fat pinch of salt
Furthermore, the preponderant risks post kidney donation, according to published studies, are mostly psychological ones, akin to those that a surrogate mother may be expected to have post caesarian delivery of, and ultimate separation from, ‘her’ baby. Justice Johnson also deceptively weighed down on the absence of adequate follow-up plans for the donor. Another brazen lie. The follow-up needs post kidney donation are routine and basic – urinalysis, blood pressure checks, ultrasound scans for those with, for example, preexisting risks of kidney stones – and providing such follow-up care is a walk in the park under the NHS, access to which Britain famously freely provides to all her residents. You cannot therefore accuse a man of ‘bribing’ a donor with the offer to stay in the UK and in the same breath accuse him of not providing access to services offered routinely and robustly under the NHS component of that same UK stay!
These huge gaps in judicial logic, as well as the even greater injudiciousness in the flagrant abuse of that most basic and universal ethos of criminal jurisprudence, the proving of facts beyond reasonable doubt, an overarching principle thrown so jauntily out of the window of the Uxbridge Magistrate Court on July 7th, beg the question, now pending appeal: was justice truly, freely and fairly served here? The elephant in the (court) room then is: if not, what detracted from due judicial probity?
Law as a ‘science’ for measuring and controlling human conduct and congress evolved from first societies when Neolithic Age men emerged from the primordial clutches of the Ice Age and began to form interactive communities, ruled by an emerging sense of a universe governed by cosmic order, ordained by deities divine, and of the human duty to observe and submit to them. These early revelations served as the basis of early worship formats and civil laws. These embryonic ‘laws’ were further refined by the lofty philosophies of the such civilizations as the Greeks and Romans, into living frameworks of legal etiquettes from which modern standards of law and jurisprudence sprung. Formulated into written codices of laws these ‘constitutions’ today, worldwide, reflect each particular society’s own perception of the gaps between where it finds itself, per its evolutionary history, and where and what it aspires to be. Law therefore exists in letters, but also has a spirit. The latter plumbs the facts of the gap between the imperfections of written codices with their de facto, inherent insufficiencies in capturing all the prospective vagaries of the prevailing human situation to which the Law seeks to apply, and the intended ideal of the blindly balanced scales of Impartial Justice.
This is where the judge comes in, because the outcome of the application of law cannot simply be the sum of a cold calculus of its provisos but of their broader humane interpretation in the context of the peculiar circumstances of the case in question. It is therefore always crucial to ‘swallow’ any judgement not just from the point of view of the ’raw’ law but of how fairly and wisely the ministering Justice considered all the mitigating circumstances in reaching his or her conclusions. In the case of the Ekweremadus, for a lot of cryptic reasons, this, uneasily, seems not to have been the case.
Considerable appeal efforts came from all quarters in Nigeria, some 52 pages of them according to Justice Johnson’s bench report, from such notable Nigerian personalities like General Olusegun Obasanjo and the Ebonyi House of Assembly leadership. Yet all, without exception, groveled to this narrative that the case merited all of the tar that the British prosecutors willfully and maliciously besmeared it with. It is indeed laughable when Africans, genetically colonized, seemingly swallow line, hook and sinker, whatever comes out of the pulpits of Western imperialistic pomposity, from subversion savvy, class-structured culture, whose sordid capacity for justice-with-ulterior-motives dates back to the Age of Kings. We, apparently, are still hypnotically beholden to the false loftiness of the high-nosed speeches, the flummery and supercilious braggadocio of our unapologetic, colonial masters.
The truth, in our hope for fairness from the court, alas is often a reality far from this naïve presumption. Western-style justice it seems has two edges: a soft side for the favored and a sharp one for those who stand condemned long before their trial by the forces that be. Queen Anne Boleyn’s case still haunts us from the Renaissance era. Today, the files of the Innocence Project are rife with cases of justice ignominiously and deliberately miscarried. Top echelon examples are most familiar. George Bush and the Iraq war versus Putin and the Ukraine war. The latter being so quickly indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) while the former continues to swagger in unvilified freedoms is a strong exemplar of this inglorious principle. Which side Justice’s sword strikes with seems to depend on the pre-trial favors of the case. Pretrial favors? The driving weight of the desires of the powers-that-be. Again, and again, what we see come out of the courts is not the result of balanced justice but the function of the desire of presiding powers. Deep and wicked acts by those favored never come no light or are dismissed lightly and early on in the prosecutorial process. This, sadly, is the reality of life.
So, again, it begs the question: who is after the Ekweremadus? How do these acts of a father’s desperate bid to save his daughter, consistent as they are with the norms of modern organ sourcing and transplantation practices, by a man of such a high political status, attract such an outcome? The answer likely lies in the risks inherent in that high political status, which invariably bears the danger of high-caliber fallouts and friction. The deafening silence of the Nigerian Federal Government over this case certainly gives a lot of cause for pause, and for concern for the plausibility of some profit-driven, deep-state machinations between the UK authorities and powerful interests in Nigeria.
The Law is at its finest when it functions, in appropriate measures, as the hammer of karma. It is at its most asinine when it is wielded as a cudgel in some deep, dark capitalist calculus. Accepting this manner of justice should always be with a big, fat pinch of salt.
Philip Oak: Justice with a pinch of salt-3
THE EKWEREMADUS’ TRIAL IN LONDON
Following up on Part 1 of Justice with a Pinch of Salt, a medical expert interrogates the logic of a London court judgement against the Ekweremadus.
In Justice with a Pinch of Salt, a medical expert faults the logic used to convict Ekweremadus for human harvesting.
Contrary to insinuations, the Buhari administration joined those who pleaded for the Ekweremadus during their UK trial for organ harvesting.