The Law Society of England and Wales, better known as The Law Society, was formed in 1825. It is the professional association that represents solicitors for the jurisdiction of England and Wales, and prides itself as providing services and support to practising and training solicitors as well as serving as a sounding board for law reform. Records have it that members of the Society are often consulted when important issues are being debated in Parliament or by the Executive.
This august jurisprudential body thinks the United Kingdom criminal justice system is long broken and needs a retrofit. It believes the sectoral crisis is an emergency and began to rally the public and stakeholders since last November to force government to commence a re-fixing, using its policy recommendations.
In the advocacy, titled “Fix the broken system-back our criminal justice campaign” the body listed the major problems confronting the system, to include; increasing shortages of criminal duty solicitors, inefficiencies and unfairness in the system, more and more courts being closed and crucial evidence not often being disclosed.
The body, currently led by its first Asian-Muslim president in history then delivers a damning verdict, “All of these problems show the criminal justice system is at breaking point. Without urgent action, it will fall apart.Things are going wrong at every level and every stage. It’s become a nightmare journey through the system for the accused, for victims and for solicitors alike.”
The assessment sounds like a Third World country’s situation, but this same wonky system has just recorded “victory” against another Nigerian big-man, just like it has been doing, bringing men and women, feared back home because of their power and influence, to justice, according to what it is, in the United Kingdom.
When now-convicted former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice were arrested June last year for alleged organ trafficking offence, Law Society believed the criminal justice system that would try the couple was anything but functional. Yet, nine months after, Ike and Nwan are about to commence a jail term in London, though appeal windows are still open to them. If the UK criminal justice system, has been, over the years, as broken as the eminent Law Society and other distinguished advocacy groups have pointed out, how has it remained clinically effective against offenders from Nigeria and elsewhere?. My guess is that the operators over there have likely resolved to always swiftly make a scapegoat of offending foreigners, while still sorting their domestic mess, so everyone won’t think the system is a latrine, for all kinds of maggots.
Yoruba will call this fear factor, killing patas monkey (ijimere) for its mates to fear the hunter. Nothing buttresses this more than the fact that the Ekweremadus are the first convicts ever, under the Modern Slavery Act of organ harvesting conspiracy, though the law came into existence in 2015. I ran through organ transplant statistics in UK in the last five years. The majority procedure has been kidney transplants. The total for organ exchanges in 2018/2019 was 3,952, 2019/2020, was 3,760, 2020/2021, was 2,947 and 2021/2020, was 3,415. At the risk of appearing to push an allocutus for the couple who now await sentencing on May 5, is the UK authority saying that all the over 13,000 organ procedures of the last five years, not to talk of the whole eight years when the law came into effect, were without blemish in the course of beneficiaries concessioning their kidneys?
While kidney donation is lawful in the UK, their law says the transactional goodwill becomes a criminal enterprise once a reward of money or other material advantage comes into the equation and the donor arranged for ailing Sonia, Ekweremadu’s daughter, was, according to the prosecution, offered up to £7,000 and the promise of a better life in the UK, which allegedly tainted the entire process.
Knowing the way of Nigerians, both the leaders and the led, there was no way monetary offer, wouldn’t have played a major role in the deal. Down here, despite our public piousness, money is the second god we worship. Those who already have it at the expense of the public like Ike and Beatrice, keep seeking more, to secure permanently control over those in lack. The latter are seeking all available means, mostly crooked, to join the big league. Practically no one is satisfied. These days, most of the times, I sit back, to ask the “WHYs” of the rat race.
If the Jurors that convicted the Ekweremadus had seised themselves of the adversarial humanity between men of power in Nigeria and the impoverished victims of their misrule, they wouldn’t have needed a whole 14 hours to come to the guilty conclusion. Ike had told the Old Bailey court that he was advised against seeking a donor among his family. That is strange because family should be the haven to run to, in time of trouble. It is either Ike hasn’t been good to his family or his family isn’t a delight to have. Whatever is the case, it shows there is a dysfunction which must be fixed once his legal troubles are however. For someone who was elected five consecutive times to the Nigerian Senate by his people of Enugu West, it is also strange that no constituent of his, could be approached for the goodwill gesture and had to resort to fishing for a supposed nobody on the street of Lagos. The saddest part is that none of his colleagues would learn any lessons from this. Some would reason he wasn’t smart enough. Some might say it was his destiny to be jailed. The religious ones, might turn to prayer warriors who don’t see sun (permanently kept in the basement) to ward off the kind of evil and misfortune that brought Ike down to zero.
The biggest lesson for anyone to learn in the Ike saga is in the harrowing question thrown at him by the prosecutor; Hugh Davies KC (equivalent of SAN here) which must have influenced the Jurors’s decision. Davies had fired, “From beginning to end, it demonstrates all he (donor) was to you was a body part for sale? Because he was going to get work and he would be paid the 3.5 million Naira, you felt you owed him nothing?” The Jury system is emotive. Once the members connect to the soul of a story, the fellow on the other side, is in trouble. Considering the mindset that an African big man, which is true for most of them, sees those down the socio-economic ladder as nothing, reason their wailing in difficulty always means nothing, which Jury, would let such a super-charged moment go, despite all the sympathies for Sonia, the ailing one.
The fall of Ike in particular should be a major lesson for us all. As a parent, my heart bleeds for the family. Ike is just a desperate father, trying to do right by his dying daughter who had to quit schooling because of her ailment. Practically all those who convicted him in the UK court and convicting him on the social media, who genuinely love their children, would fall into his error. It is likely easy for him so doing, because the Nigerian environment has always aided his kind in wrongdoing.
Beyond his frailties and hubris, there is a spiritual dimension to the politician’s travails. Christians know it as spirit of error, especially when you touch the anointed of God. In Ike’s case, it could also be a race curse. 48 hours to his arrest, he had gone full blast, unprovoked, against Obi and his own Igbo race, to demonstrate party loyalty. All manner of curse were laid on him. Then Obi did what Jesus prescribes in Matthew 5:44 and the rest, as they say, is history. May the mercy of God find Ike, his beau and Sonia, amen. So sad.
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