The Westminster magistrate court in the UK has ruled that David Ukpo, the purported kidney donor for the daughter of Ike and Beatrice Ekweremadu is not a minor.
The court gave the ruling yesterday when Ekweremadu, a former deputy president of the senate, and Beatrice, his wife, appeared for trial.
The senator representing Enugu West and his wife, are facing charges bordering on conspiracy to arrange/facilitate the travel of another person, with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
During the proceeding, the court held that Ukpo was not a minor after counsel to the Ekweremadus made an argument on the matter.
The prosecutor had insisted that Ukpo was a minor, and that he was not more than 15 years old.
The defendants’ lawyers also informed the court of a bail application they intended to file in the first week of August.
Thereafter, the judge adjourned the case till August 4, as the court remanded the Ekweremadus in police custody
Meanwhile, the UK attorney-general has approved that the case is tried at the Central Criminal Court in London.
Adamu Bulkachuwa, chairman of the Senate committee on foreign affairs, led the Senate delegation to the court.
David Mark, former president of the senate; Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, former minister of state for education, and a delegation from the Nigeria High Commission, were also present in court.
Also present at the court was the former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh.
Although members of the Senate’s delegation refused to grant an interview when the Arise TV crew approached them for interviews, Metuh obliged, describing Ekweremadu as a perfect gentleman.
He said Ekweremadu’s good disposition to people informed the reason the court was filled to the brim with Nigerians who were in solidarity with him.
“The most important thing that we witnessed today is that the so-called minor recanted, and of his own free will, went to the police again and confessed that he’s not under 21; that means he’s not a minor,” Metuh said.
“And because of that, the judge struck out section 45, so everything about the case can be open, since a minor is no more involved,’’ Metuh, who was in court for the hearing, said.
On Wednesday, the Federal High Court, Abuja, ordered the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, to transmit the Certified True Copy, CTC, of the biodata information of the alleged minor to the Attorney General of the Federation for onward transmission to the UK to aid Ekweremadu’s trial.
The lawmaker’s lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, on July 27 urged Justice Inyang Ekwo to order the release of certain official documents of Ukpo domiciled with NIMC, Nigerian Immigration Service, and Stanbic-IBTC Bank to effectively defend Ekweremadu in the UK.
The prayers were granted by Justice Inyang Ekwo.
The UK police had arrested Ekweremadu and his wife and had the next day paraded them in court and charged them for conspiracy to facilitate the travel of another person for organ harvesting in the UK.
Organ harvesting involves removing parts of the body, often, for commercial gain and against the victim’s will. This is different from organ transplantation as advised by medical opinion and supervised in a certified medical institution. Consent on the part of all is key here.
The court had refused to grant them bail and ordered their detention until July 7 for continuation of trial in the alleged crime.
Ekweremadu had last year written a letter to the British High Commission in Nigeria to support an earlier application for a Visa by Ukpo to enable him travel to London for the purpose.