Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Nigeria's former Deputy Senate President

Alleged Organ Harvesting: Ike Ekweremadu loses bail  in London Court over EFCC letter

*Following hearing from both the Prosecution and the Defence teams, the London Court Judge rules, ‘I am entirely satisfied there remains a flight risk’, and ‘this bail application is refused’

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The Central Criminal Court, London, otherwise known as the Old Bailey, in the United Kingdom (UK), once again, has denied Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Nigeria’s former Deputy Senate President, bail on the grounds that he is a ‘flight risk’.

It was gathered that the court cited the letter and assets forfeiture proceedings against the lawmaker by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The UK court gave its verdict at a pre-trial hearing in London, Tuesday, December 20, 2022, report said.

Ekweremadu’s attorneys were said to have argued in the bail application, that the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and the Attorney-General of the Federal (AGF) had written to the court that the accused person was not a flight risk, and gave a guarantee to produce him should he do otherwise.

The legislator’s attorneys also reminded the London court that the Nigeria High Commission in the UK had equally given the option of tagging the erstwhile Deputy Senate President electronically, to monitor his movement.

They as well cited character attestation for him by other well-respected Nigerians and organisations and Ekweremadu’s involvement in other global courses that champion humanity.

According to the attorneys, such have observed that Ekweremadu “is a highly regarded, well-known public figure”.

His defence equally contended that the lawmaker has shown himself a caring and responsible father, and therefore, could not possibly escape from London abandoning his wife and sick daughter, according to report.

The defence further told the court that they had sureties and securities of nearly half a million Pound Sterling from 11 people to secure Ekweremadu’s release on bail.

Prosecution’s insistence on Ekweremadu’s ‘flight risk’

However, just as during the July 2022 bail application hearing, the prosecution had insisted that Ekweremadu was a flight risk, citing once again, July 18, 2022, letter by signed by Abdulkarim Chukkoi, Assistant Director Operations at EFCC, on behalf of Mr. Abdulraheed Bawa Executive Chairman of the  anti-graft Commission.

Besides, the Prosecution cited the ongoing assets forfeiture proceedings against the former three-term Federal legislator in the Federal High Court, Abuja, FCT.

Although the EFCC had investigated Ekweremadu for many years without charging the lawmaker to court, the anti-graft agency had upon his arrest and a 17th July 2022, enquiry by the London Metropolitan Police, indicted Ekweremadu and vowed to immediately institute assets forfeiture proceedings and criminal processes against him while in custody in London.

The prosecution equally argued that as a holder of the international passports of two other countries, the lawmaker could also escape to any of the other countries other than Nigeria.

After hearing from both sides, the Judge said: “I am entirely satisfied there remains a flight risk.”

He also noted that bail would not make much difference “as the trial is just over a month away.”

Consequently, the Judge ruled that “this bail application is refused.”

The trial of the Ekweremadus will now begin from January 31, 2023, report said.

EFCC and Ekweremadu’s interim assets forfeiture order

An earlier hearing in November, the court moved the trial from May to January 2022.

The Tuesday, December 20 proceedings appear to have confirmed claim in the Federal High Court, Abuja, by Ekweremadu’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), that the EFCC truncated Ekweremadu’s bail application in July this year, according to report.

Awomolu also accused the EFCC of dishonestly obtaining an interim assets forfeiture order against the lawmaker by withholding vital information from Justice Inyang Ekpo.

Awomolu accused the EFCC of shielding the fact that the lawmaker was in detention in London, hence not in a position to defend himself and that while it started investigation of Ekweremadu for well over a decade, it only found it auspicious to indict and move against him he had issues in London and was facing trial.

The youth wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide and the civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association, HURIWA, have variously accused the anti-graft agency of complicity in Ekweremadu’s London travail.

In a statement by its National President, Mazi Okwu Nnabuihe, Ohanaeze youths had accused the EFCC of double standard, persecution, and assets stripping of southern persons and businesses.

Faulting both timing and motive, HURIWA, on its part, held that EFCC’s letter and assets forfeiture lawsuit against Ekweremadu “at a time he was in custody, facing trial in the United Kingdom, and unable to defend himself or properly brief his lawyers was malicious, immoral, in bad faith, and tantamount to a country throwing her citizen under the bus”.

However, the EFCC, through Mr. Sylvanus Tahir (SAN), its lawyer, had however, dismissed the allegations.

Tahir reportedly said that  it was a mere coincidence as there was no legally stipulated time frame for the EFCC to initiate forfeiture proceedings or criminal charges against a suspect.

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