Barely 24 hours after it was called out, the Nigerian Senate has reacted to the arrest and remand of former deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, in the U.K..
Mr Ekweremadu and his wife were arrested in London last week for allegedly bringing a 15-year-old boy from Nigeria to the UK with the claim that he was to be given a better life in the UK but was actually to harvest his organ to treat their daughter who is suffering from kidney disease.
The Senate resolved to send a delegation of its committee on foreign affairs to London to see the couple.
The delegation will leave for the UK in two days.
The Senate also mandated its committee on foreign affairs to engage with the British High Commission to “find more details on the case as far as the Commission is involved.”
Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President, made this known at the end of a closed door session on Wednesday.
At the end of the executive session which lasted about an hour, Mr Lawan announced that the lawmakers were briefed on the arrest of their colleague, Mr Ekweremadu, in London.
He said he had a personal engagement with Nigerian High Commissioner to Britain “who has done so well to establish contact with Mr Ekweremadu – who has been able to get his team to be in the court in Uxbridge where he was taken to.”
The High Commission, he explained, has been able to provide some consular services that included the engagement of lawyers who will defend the Enugu senator.
The Senate President also said they “have limited opportunities to do beyond what has been done ” because “issue is already in court.”
While he assured the family of Mr Ekweremadu that more will be done, he said a delegation will be sent to see the couple.
“There will be a delegation to London to see Senator Ekweremadu and his wife. The delegation on the senate committee on foreign affairs will leave in two days.
“We urge all institutions that can do anything to ensure that they do so, particularly the ministry of foreign affairs. And as for the Nigerian High Commission, we can ask for more but they have done us proud,” he said.
The couple were arrested last week by the London Metropolitan Police. They were charged with alleged trafficking of one David Nwanini with the aim of harvesting his kidney.
The allegations were that Mr Ekweremadu and his wife brought a 15-year-old boy from Nigeria to the UK with the claim that he was to be given a better life in the UK but was actually to harvest his organ to treat their daughter who is suffering from kidney disease.
They were tried at the Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court in London and denied bail as the prosecutors reportedly informed the court that Mr Ekweremadu procured a passport for the boy and claimed he was 21 years old only to discover that he was 15 years old.
But the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), has, however, said the age of the alleged victim of organ harvesting, David Nwamini, was 21; contradicting the claims of prosecutors in London.
Many Nigerians had condemned the Senate for its silence on the issue at yesterday’s plenary.
The House of Representatives invited the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Aziz, to appear and brief relevant committees of the House on the ongoing trial in London of Mr Ekweremadu.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS), Idris Jere, was also invited.
If convicted, the Ekweremadus may get a maximum of life sentence or 12 months imprisonment or a fine or both on summary conviction under the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act 2015.
The Act read, “A person guilty of an offence under Section 1 or 2 is liable (a)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life; (b)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine or both.”