Ekweremadu to spend Christmas, New Year in jail

A former deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, had his request for bail denied yesterday at the Central Criminal Court, also known as the Old Bailey, and will now spend Christmas and New Year’s Day in jail.

Along with those of his wife, Beatrice, and their daughter, Sonia, his application for “dismissal of charges” of conspiring to facilitate the organ harvesting of David Nwamini’s kidney was also denied.

By default, the Ekweremadus and co-defendant, Dr. Obinna Obeta, will now stand trial beginning on January 31. By then, Ekweremadu would have spent a little over seven months in prison since his arrest at Heathrow Airport on June 23rd. Like on Monday, Ekweremadu and Obeta attended the hearing via video links from their prisons, while Mrs. Ekweremadu was physically present. But Sonia wasn’t in court, having been excused due to her medical condition and ongoing dialysis.

In the bail application, the defence team argued that “he is a highly regarded and well-known public figure,” and also referenced the fact that he “attended COP 26 in this country and represented Nigeria” on climate change discussions, but the prosecution hammered on his being a flight risk. He told the court that Ekweremadu might take flight and not return to attend the trial if granted bail. However, his barrister said he couldn’t do that or leave his sick daughter and wife behind.

The defence went further in his argument, saying the Nigerian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the Nigerian Bar Association gave character references for Ekweremadu and even asked the court to consider electronic tagging in order to monitor his movements. His defence also told the court that they had sureties and securities of nearly half a million pounds from 11 people, but the Recorder of London, the judge, wasn’t swayed by the argument.

On his part, the prosecutor cited a letter written to them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on July 18 to support their grounds for opposing bail. After hearing from both sides of the bench, the judge said, “I’m entirely satisfied that there remains a flight risk,” especially “as the trial is just over a month away.” In view of that, his ruling was, “This bail application is refused.”




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