Weep not for Ekweremadu . The betrayal of this three-term deputy president of the senate, and deputy to the second in line of succession to the presidency is a metaphor for the rest of us regarded as citizens only during elections but as subjects or even refugees thereafter. Ekweremadu, put in detention by the British in spite of his rights and privileges, has been left to fight his own battles alone in the last six months. On the other hand, this past week, America and Russia by prison swap of even condemned criminals have demonstrated the essence of citizenship.
To secure the freedom of their citizens, they put in everything even when those they are negotiating with refuse to engage constructively in negotiations or try to hide under their country’s judicial process. The first demonstration of such commitment was Biden administration’s prison swap of Trevor Reed, a former Marine who was held captive in Russia for more than two years. He was traded for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot then serving a 20-year federal prison sentence for cocaine smuggling conspiracy.
Late last week, the Biden administration after six months of negotiation was also able to exchange Victor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker, known as the “Merchant of Death”, regarded by American CIA Director Bill Burns as “a Crip” who was serving a 25-year US prison sentence, to secure release of American Brittney Griner also serving a 10-year jail term in Russia prison for bringing cannabis to Russia.
But Ekweremadu, abandoned to his fate by his country, was neither an arms dealer, a ‘merchant of death’, nor a drug pusher. His only offence was wanting to save the life of his sick daughter. In this regard, according to him, he had informed the UK High Commission on December 2021 in a letter that one David Nwamini was undergoing medical investigations for a kidney donation to his daughter, Sonia Ekweremadu, who is in need of a kidney transplant, and said both Nwamini and Sonia will be at the Royal Free Hospital London.
But something went wrong with the arrangement while in London. Nwamini then escaped and sought police protection claiming he was 15 years old, tricked into London for the purpose of organ harvesting without his consent. Ekweremadu was subsequently arrested along with his wife on June 23 and kept behind bars after being charged with wanting to make payment for the procurement of an organ for their daughter.
Although experts claim the offence is bail-able, but when Ekweremadu was brought before the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, on August 4, he was denied bail on the suspicion he might jump bail and fly back to Nigeria. Nigeria did nothing.
As for his fellow PDP colleagues, notorious for deadly family quarrel over sharing of offices and looted resources, it was time to settle old scores. His rival for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ticket for Enugu West Senatorial District in the 2019 general elections, Chief Ogochukwu Onyema is seeking declaration that his seat in the Senate be declared vacant Ogochukwu Onyema.
A Yoruba idiom common to all Nigerians admonishes us to fist deal with the external aggressor before venting our anger on the victim. But EFCC, without restraint, dragged Ekweremadu to a Federal High Court, Abuja, which ordered an interim forfeiture of 40 landed property, including 10 property in Enugu, three in the United States of America, two in the UK, one in Lagos, nine in Dubai, the United Arab Emirate and 15 located in the Federal Capital Territory linked to him.
But what was the hurry? Why is Ekweremadu being singled out since we all know when it comes to acquisition of properties in Abuja, no lawmaker can throw the first stone. Even Senator Dino Melaye, who has never done any work in his life before joining Obasanjo as adviser on youths and later the league of highly paid Nigerian lawmakers often advertises his big mansion with an array of expensive state-of-the-art cars. Former Senate President, David Mark, former Speaker Dimeji Bankoe and former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim among others, are all embroiled in Abuja property scandals.
If Citizen Ekweremadu, a part owner of Nigeria, can waste away in British detention for six months, without an indictment, we can understand why no one gives a thought to the plight of those regarded as subjects who on the average spend at least five hours on Lagos-Ibadan expressway’s long bridge every day since August this year when Julius Berger declared war on Nigerians that ply the road.
Julius Berger: The nightmare on Long Bridge continues
Thousands of vehicles conveying passengers and goods from all parts of Nigeria, with some travelling overnight continue to spend between five and eight hours trying to snail their way to Lagos through the long bridge daily. Instead of finding solution, it is the victims that are often blamed for their impatience with some suggesting that those who drive against traffic should be subjected to psychiatric test.
But dear compatriots, let me start by sharing my experiences while caught-up on the bridge last week Wednesday and Thursday. Trying to move out of Lagos at 7 am last Wednesday, I spent over one hour and 30 minutes between Berger bus stop and OPIC exit. The problem was that many motorists and residents emerging from OPIC/Channel TV axis blocked the road while trying to cross the express road to join the Lagos bound traffic that had by then already extended beyond Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church.
The solution is simple if only successive Ogun state governors especially after the exit of Olabisi Onabanjo and Olusegun Osoba, regarded those on whose back they rode to power as citizens. Lagos-bound motorists exiting OPIC estates should have been channelled under the bridge to the other side of Kara ram market.
It is just that these self-serving Ogun governors are immune to sufferings of those they see only as subjects. For instance, that road was started by Gbenga Daniel who stopped it shortly after securing his own newspaper Compass office and what he called Journalist Rendezvous. Ibikunle Amosun came and made promises. For eight years he did nothing. And today with a sea of heads that greets one at OPIC, Arepo and Journalist Village bus stops every morning and with women holding their children hands and risking their lives on motor bikes that drive against traffic towards Lagos, I cannot stop wondering how Governor Dapo Abiodun is able to sleep daily.
While marooned in the traffic-gridlock, for five hours on the long bridge on my way back to Lagos, I was able to count about 25 SUVs with police escorts driving against traffic towards Lagos. The following day, I joined hundreds of commercial vehicles taking the unpaved side lane of the bridge. Even with the bad state of the road, we were at the end of the bridge in 15 minutes. Were Nigerians regarded as citizens, Julius Berger would have fixed that potion of the side lane to reduce daily agony of motorists.
Nature, according to Lucien Fevre’s ‘theory of environmental possibilism’ always advises rational man on choices of survival options which can only be ignored at one’s peril. Therefore, except you are a robot, if a journey of 10 minutes is going to end in five hours, a rational man seeks a rational choice which does not preclude taking one-way. It is governments and their agents paid to prevent such natural instincts that are on trial.
It will therefore appear those who need psychiatrist test most are those who are indifferent to human suffering.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Kaaynan’s editorial stance.