Temporal relief came the way of a former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice, as the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday ordered the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to release the official bio-data of David Nwamini to the applicants. Ekweremadu and his wife had in the application, dated and filed on June 27 through their counsel, Chief Adeboyega Awomolo (SAN), sued NIMC and four others. Others mentioned in the suit are the Comptroller General (C-G), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS); Stanbic- IBTC Bank; and Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc as 2nd to 5th respondents respectively. Trial Judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo in a ruling in the application ordered the National Identity Management Commission NIMC, and the two commercial banks involved in the matter to release Nwamini’s details in their possession to the Applicants. The Applicants are being detained by the United Kingdom authorities over charges of conspiring to bring a child to Britain for organ harvesting. Following their arrest by the London Metropolitan Police, they were arraigned before Uxbridge Magistrate Court, which ordered that they should be remanded in custody till July 7 while investigations continue into the allegations against them.
Awomolo had prayed the court that Nwamini’s National Identification Number (NIN), which is in the possession of the NIMC, should be produced for the purposes of facilitating the criminal investigation and tendering same to establish his client’s innocence. He also prayed the Court that the Comptroller General of NIS be directed to provide his clients with the documents and application form, which Nwamini presented to obtain his international passport for the purpose of assisting the criminal investigation and tendering same before the Uxbridge Magistrate Court in the UK.
Meanwhile, lawyers have said that the Federal Government needed not give any permission to the UK government before Ekweremadu and his wife could be tried. There were reports in some quarters that because part of the alleged offence was committed outside of the United Kingdom, the consent of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is required for the case to continue. Reacting, a legal practitioner, Chief Iheke Solomon said that, “Generally, an offence will only be triable in the jurisdiction in which the offence takes place. But when-
ever the various ingredients or elements that constitute an offence occur in different jurisdictions, it’s been long settled in law that each of the jurisdictions, where any of the ingredients or elements of the offences occurred, has the jurisdiction to hear and determine the case. “No permission is required from any of the other jurisdictions, where any of the other ingredients or elements occurred before assuming the jurisdiction to try the offence. Another lawyer, Timileyin Ojo, in his reaction said that, “I hold a different opinion on this. I do not think the consent of the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice is required for the case to continue. The law under which the charge was instituted must have clearly established what constitutes the offence. “I cannot speak affirmatively that the consent is not needed, but I can say for sure that the offence in question is in bits and some of the elements were fully carried out in the UK, therefore consent cannot be required to pursue such offences.
“It is therefore unsafe to conclude that the trial cannot proceed when there are ingredients that make up a complete offence, which all occurred outside Nigeria. We must understand that the law which, creates the offence is not a Nigerian Law so we must be careful in making submissions.” Another lawyer, James Nnoli in his reaction said that “You cannot assume that we run the same common law. They are more advanced than we are in terms of lawmaking. Unless we know the laws they will be relying on it may be difficult to give a professional opinion. “Here, we arrest people and await evidence. There, the pieces of evidence are already on ground before arrests are made. I wouldn’t know what they got.” On his part, Ahmed Raji, SAN said in view of the letter to the UK embassy that is viral in the media, Ekweremadu should be given benefit of doubt because he seemed not to have intended to commit any crime. “Even though I do not have the knowledge of the UK, it is a trite law that it is intention that makes an action a crime. Another lawyer, Dr. Fabian Agwu in his reaction said that “it is better he is tried over there. “I trust the UK government. They are very progressive and meticulous in terms of criminal investigation and with regards to trafficking issues; they have a lot of experts. “I am sure Ekweremadu will be given fair trial by the United Kingdom.”