Again, the United Kingdom (UK) Central Criminal Court has turned down the bail bid of former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu. The court hinged its decision on the belief that Ekweremadu is a “flight risk.”
Ekweremadu and his wife Beatrice are being tried by the court on charges bordering on conspiracy to arrange/facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
They were arrested by the London Metropolitan Police in June and appeared before a magistrate court in July.
Ekweremadu’s wife was granted bail on July 22, 2022 but the senator’s request was denied.
In the fresh bail application, Ekweremadu’s lawyer argued that the Nigerian high commissioner to the UK and the attorney-general of the federation had written to the court stating that he was not a flight risk.
He also said the Nigeria High Commission in the UK had agreed to guarantee the senator’s appearance should he pose a flight risk and had also provided the option of electronically tracking Ekweremadu’s movements.
The counsel further contended that Ekweremadu had demonstrated that he was a loving and responsible parent and could not flee London, abandoning his wife and ailing daughter, citing the testimony of Ekweremadu’s character by renowned Nigerians and organisations.
In order to gain Ekweremadu’s release on bail, the defence also informed the court that they had sureties and security totalling around 500,000 pounds sterling from 11 individuals.
While opposing the bail application, the prosecution insisted that Ekweremadu is a flight risk, arguing that since the lawmaker holds passports from two other nations, in addition to Nigeria, he might go to any of the other countries.
The prosecution referred to the assets’ forfeiture proceedings against Ekweremadu at the Federal High Court in Abuja and further cited the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) letter dated July 18, 2022, which was signed by Abdulkarim Chukkoi, assistant director of operations, on behalf of Abdulraheed Bawa, the executive chairman.
Ruling on the application on Tuesday, the judge said, “I am entirely satisfied there remains a flight risk,” adding that bail would not make much difference “as the trial is just over a month away.”
The police had alleged that David Ukpo, the reported victim at the centre of the organ harvesting allegation, is a 15-year-old but the court ruled that he is 21.
Sonia, Ekweremadu’s daughter, was also charged with conspiracy to arrange the travel of another person with a view to harvesting the person’s organ for her benefit.
Ekweremadu’s daughter is said to be suffering from kidney disease and needs a transplant.