This week, I read with joy that Mrs Beatrice Ekweremadu had been granted bail. It was long overdue. Neither she nor her husband, the Distinguished Senator Ike Ekweremadu should have been arrested in the first place, let alone detained at all.
It is ironic that the UK, the country that owns the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, which many wrongly attribute to the Americans, should try to present itself as the champion of the ‘modern slave’ without ever acknowledging or atoning for its horrendous past atrocities.
While we acknowledge that it is right to seek to protect those still being subjected to inhumane treatment, such an exercise must be seen to be true to the Law and fair in its application and be clearly shown to be impartial in its execution and that is where the UK failed woefully in the case of Senator Ekweremadu.
This was a clear case of a rush to judgment by the Metropolitan Police, and to cover up this initial mistake they are now looking for a crime to fit the law. It has gone from seeking to protect a fake victim to victimising an innocent man.
It has been established beyond reasonable doubt in both UK and Nigerian courts that David Ukpo engaged in a devious deception to try to remain in the UK. He already knew enough about the Law to reduce his age to 15 – a minor. A so-called ‘homeless orphan’ who should be half-illiterate, knew about modern slavery laws and had the confidence as a first time visitor to the UK, to take himself to a UK Police Station without fear and claim he was a victim of trafficking and was being kept as a slave! And it is to the UK’s shame that they rushed to arrest and demonise Senator Ekweremadu and his wife with the salacious, horrendous crime of ‘organ harvesting’ with a ‘suitable’ picture of him in traditional garb on the BBC website for good measure.
It is a case of the UK trying to atone for their historical slavery crimes by painting the descendents of those they had enslaved as the new face of slave masters; an abuse of power to divert attention from themselves and point guilty fingers at another – in this case an innocent man who followed the law to the T. If Senator Ekweremandu is charged with this crime, the Consular Officer from the British High Commission that issued the visa must join him in the Dock as a facilitator. The immigration officer at Heathrow who stamped his entry visa after questioning him should also be in the dock because there is no way they did not question Ukpo about the reason for his visit to the UK when the letter to the UK High Commission clearly stated he was coming to be a donor.
The minute it became apparent that David Ukpo lied, all the Met Police had to do was proffer profuse apologies to the Senator and his wife, admit their mistake and if necessary, pay compensation, although at that initial time, it was unlikely the Senator would have sought compensation, knowing that his daughter was in the hands of British doctors and it would be unwise to be at daggers drawn with the Establishment when you need that Establishment’s facilities. The matter would have ended since.
But Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s travails had too many political undertones to be ignored.
On the day after his arrest, President Muhammadu Buhari was in Rwanda laughing with Boris Johnson and talking about his Third Term Agenda. No mention was made of the high profile arrest of one of his highest ranking law-makers.
While Joe Biden and Anthony Blinken are demanding the release of their basketball player arrested in Russia for drugs (which she admitted to bringing into Russia), the three official voices of Nigeria – Buhari (President), Lai Mohammed (Information) and Geoffrey Onyeama (Foreign Affairs) have been totally silent and did not demand the immediate release of the Senator once it was established that Ukpo lied about absolutely everything and, therefore, there was no case.
And wouldn’t the UK have responded if the Nigerian Government had put up a robust demand for the Senator who followed the law?
Can anyone imagine this happening to a Chinese, Russian, Saudi or American lawmaker in the UK?
Is this not the same UK where a minor Saudi Prince killed his black slave in a London hotel in 2010 with the CCTV in the lift capturing the abuse the prince inflicted on his real life slave who he subsequently beat and strangled to death in the hotel room? And what did the Saudi Government do? They demanded he be sent to Saudi Arabia to serve his punishment and, of course, the UK capitulated. They could not afford to offend the Saudis just like Donald Trump and Joe Biden who have to cosy up to them because of the exponential wealth they have leveraged to keep the West ignoring their human rights abuses.
Is it not the same oil that Saudi Arabia produces and uses to control the world that Nigeria has squandered and is now the poverty capital of the world?
And is it not the same UK that allowed Mrs Sacoolas flee to the USA without even being detained to escape justice for killing 19-year-old Mr Dunn? The UK couldn’t afford a diplomatic spat with the USA.
Why are there double standards in the application of the law by the UK? Why did the Met Police not discontinue this travesty immediately it became apparent that David Nwamini Ukpo lied instead of wasting tax-payers’ money to literally creat a case in order to further tarnish the Senator?
But the most important question of all is this – Why has the UK never prosecuted Buhari for the established crime of kidnapping and attempted murder of Umaru Dikko on British soil in 1984? For almost four decades, Buhari has entered and exited the UK without let or hindrance despite the heinous crime of trying to crate Umaru Dikko to Nigeria in the cargo hold of an aircraft which would have killed him long before he reached Nigeria.
If the UK really wants to burnish its credentials for fighting for justice, I believe that the majority of Nigerians would celebrate if it were to issue the long overdue international arrest warrant for Buhari because there is no statute of limitation for attempted murder.
We accept that the Nigerian Government is corrupt to the core, but when did the UK get to this? Is this really the UK that was formerly held up as a bastion of fairness and equity? Where the innocent expected the Rule of Law to be applied fairly and evenly? Is this the UK of William Wilberforce and is this what William Wilberforce fought for?
When did the UK become Nigeria where it is acknowledged that the law is applied only to enemies of the state?
The UK must look inward and retrace its steps in the persecution of Senator Ike Ekweremadu because if we walk it backwards, it is beginning to look like a frame-up. Already, there are questions of UK of complicity in the rendition of Nnamdi Kanu from Kenya by Buhari’s Government that cannot arrest a terrorist at his turbaning in Zamfara State, but can follow Nnamdi Kanu to Kenya and Sunday Igboho to Benin and leverage its continental power to deal with them through illegal means. Only Buhari is allowed to be corrupt when carrying out his vendetta.
Can it be that the Buhari government is actually leveraging its power by letting the UK do its dirty work to further denigrate Ndigbo by humiliating its foremost Senator? It sounds fantastic, but sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction as we saw with the murder of Kashoggi in a Saudi Consulate in Turkey and the rendition of Nnamdu Kanu not to mention the kidnapping and crating of Umaru Dikko in the UK by this same Buhari.
Who would believe it could happen that the UK could continue this investigation after establishing that the complainant was a scheming pathological liar? Would they give this attention to a rape victim whose story had even one comma? Did they give this attention to the hundreds of victims of Jimmy Saville who reported his abuse across so many police stations in the UK or the hundreds of girls who reported the Pakistani gangs forcing them to become their sex slaves without any action for years? Would they give this attention to victims of racism? And what about the thousands of abused wives who have cried for help and intervention as they endure real conditions of modern slavery in their marital homes?
And who would believe that in the UK, where an 18-year-old can join the army and be sent off to Afghanistan or wherever, David Nwamini Ukpo, a 21-year-old liar, is being packaged as a helpless minor in order to have a crime with which to charge Senator Ekweremadu while real trafficking victims go unattended to? This prosecution/persecution tarnishes the image of the Metropolitan Police. It is time for it to stop.
It is time for ordinary Nigerians whose government may or may not be in collusion with this unwarranted abuse of a good law, to demand the even application of the law by the arrest of Buhari for the Umaru Dikko kidnap and the immediate release of Senator Ekweremadu followed by an apology.
The law is designed to protect real victims and David Nwamini Ukpo is definitely not a victim. Continuing this case is a waste of tax-payers’ money and encourages charlatans to abuse the law while real victims go unattended to.
In the meantime, David Nwamini Ukpo should be immediately deported to Rwanda to seek his asylum there. He is not fit to return to Nigeria.
• Lian writes from London