Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila advises caution on presentation of issues around the arrest and trial of Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife in London.
He said yesterday that criminal charge against the Senator should not be read as a conviction or proof of guilt.
He made the comment before the House of Representatives passed a motion to invite key officials for briefing on the case.
Gbajabiamila requested Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK to offer the couple every support they may need to defend themselves.
Metropolitan Police arrested Senator Ekweremadu and his wife and charged them to court for allegedly facilitating transportation to London of an unsuspecting 15 year-old in order to harvest his organs.
In a sworn affidavit, the couple asked a high court in Abuja to order federal agencies to tender public records that establish the age of their accuser.
The couple said they needed their accuser’s official birth records for use in defending the charges against them.
Speaker Gbajabiamila said yesterday that a criminal charge “does not constitute a conviction or conclusive proof of guilt.
“This is merely the beginning of the judicial process to substantiate the fact of the allegation and gather sufficient evidence to sustain the charges therein.
“Until the process is concluded, and even then, let us keep in mind that at the heart of this matter, there are human beings and fellow citizens whose lives have taken a turn none of us would ever wish for ourselves.
“I ask the Nigerian High Commission to avail Senator Ekweremadu and his family all necessary defence and support that he will need to defend himself.
“Indeed I have spoken to the High Commissioner in the UK. I still spoke with him this morning and he has been very proactive.
“He has done all that needs to be done. A Queen’s Counsel has been made available to Ekweremadu. He has access to him.
“The Nigerian High Commission is doing all that is necessary to make sure that Senator Ekweremadu is given the full opportunities, rights and privileges that he would need to defend himself”, Gbajabiamila said.
…Reps Summon Officials
The House of Representatives thereafter unanimously passed a resolution to invite three federal agencies to brief members on the Ekweremadus’ ongoing court case in West London.
Invited for the briefing are the Foreign Affairs Minister, Comptroller-General of Immigration and Director-General of National Identity Management Commission.
The House said it wants to know what actions the agencies took regarding the arrest, arraignment, and detention of the couple in London.
It further directed Foreign Minister and Nigeria’s High Commission in London to offer consular services as may be needed by both the Ekweremadus and their accuser.
The lawmakers also directed NIMC, NIS, and banks to speedily make available “legitimately requested information” to resolve the charges against Ekweremadu and his wife.
The House additionally urged Ministry of Health and Nigerian High Commission in the UK to provide care for Ekweremadu’s daughter pending the outcome of the court case.
Hon. Abdullahi Abdulkadir Ningi and Hon. Haruna Mshelia moved the motion at the plenary yesterday, 28 June 2022.
Ningi told his colleagues that the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) charged the Ekweremadus and had them detained while awaiting resolution of jurisdiction issues by the Attorney-General of England and Wales.
His motion, he said, was for justice and fairness to be served on all parties who are Nigerians.
He said: “Aware of Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s unblemished record as a constitutional lawyer, ranking legislator at the highest level in Nigeria, West Africa sub-region and various international parliamentary bodies and foremost advocate of the right and dignity of man.
“Also aware that Dr. (Mrs) Ekweremadu has had a flawless career in Nigeria’s federal public service, rising to the rank of Director.
“Mindful of the value of human life, it is imperative that Miss Ekweremadu who has a life-threatening ailment is not allowed to come to harms way due to the unavailability of parental care owing to their continuous detention in the United Kingdom.
“We cannot have a situation where allegation that has not been thoroughly investigated would result in a high-ranking public officer, who has served and is still serving the Nigerian public, the Nigerian state being treated like this; and he has a diplomatic passport.
“We cannot allow this to happen. If it can happen to some of Ekwemadu’s status, I wonder what would happen to ordinary Nigerians.
“The House is, however, hopeful that the authorities in the UK would work with their national security and intelligence counterparts in Nigeria to conduct a holistic and thorough investigation to ascertain all the facts relating to the allegations in order to make a fair determination on the issues in the best interests of equity and justice for all concerned”.
In his contribution, Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, frowned at a situation where anybody, whether highly or lowly placed, is unduly and hastily made to suffer some jeopardy before determining his guilt or innocence.
“This matter is a matter that has to do with freedom. It has to do with the right and dignity of man. It has to do with justice for all. It has to do with fairness.
“Mr Speaker, Hon colleagues, you are aware, as a lawyer, that there is a presumption of innocence and in that presumption, the law deals with reasonable doubt, beyond all reasonable doubt.
“Even though we are not talking about conviction here, the law presupposes you have to hear the other side. And as the facts are emerging, it is very clear or there is an alternative narrative that shows that what may have been relied on in the haste may not be the truth.
“Mr. Speaker, as a holder of Nigerian diplomatic passport, should he not be availed the use of that? More also is the fact that there should also be consular services to Mr Ukpo, who is claiming to be a child, so the facts are completely ascertained,” Okechukwu stated.
The motion was unanimously passed.