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Ekweremadu, wife risk long jail term if convicted

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The Specialist Crime Team of the Metropolitan Police in London has arrested a former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice.

They were arrested for alleged conspiracy to harvest the organs of a child, who is currently in protective custody.

If convicted, the couple may get a maximum of life sentence or 12 months imprisonment or a fine or both on summary conviction under the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act 2015.

The Act read, “A person guilty of an offence under Section 1 or 2 is liable (a)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life; (b)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine or both.”

A statement by the Metropolitan Police said, “A woman and a man were charged today (Thursday) with conspiring to arrange the travel of a child into the UK to harvest organs.

“The charges follow an investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Crime team.

“[A] Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55 (10.9.66) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.

“[B] Ike Ekweremadu, 60 (12.05.62) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.”

The investigation was launched after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May 2022, the force said.

The PUNCH gathered that the senator’s daughter needed an organ transplant.

A source said, “One of his children needs an organ transplant. Probably, the arrangement was not tidy in the face of British laws.”

Our correspondents learnt that Ekweremadu and his wife were arrested on Tuesday at the Heathrow Airport in London en route to Istanbul in Turkey.

They were arraigned before a UK Magistrate court on Thursday.

According to the court proceedings, as reported by Arise TV monitored by one of our correspondents, Ekweremadu and Beatrice appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court.

The station reported, “The alleged victim, in this case, is a homeless 15-year-old boy who was brought to the UK by Mr and Mrs Ekweremadu off the streets of Lagos, Nigeria.

“They are both charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of another person with the aim of exploitation, namely organ harvesting.

“They conspired to bring a child from Nigeria, a 15-year-old boy to harvest his organ; the boy was promised a better life. The prosecutors told the court that the former Deputy Senate President procured a passport for the boy and claimed he was 21 years old but discovered that he was 15 years old.

“The court learnt that Ekweremadu’s daughter had been battling with kidney failure and has been on dialysis for a while and needed a kidney transplant. So, the boy was brought in to give one of his kidneys to the daughter.”

Reports said the doctor billed to perform the transplant suspended it after learning that the boy identified as Ukpo David, was a minor.

AriseTV further reported that the court heard, “The Royal Free (hospital) cancelled the procedure and returned the boy to the custody of the family who treated him badly and he had to run away and slept on the streets for two days.

“It was while sleeping on the streets that the boy went to the police who investigated the matter and arrested the Ekweremadus at the Heathrow Airport on their way to Istanbul, Turkey, to procure another organ because they were unable to harvest the boy’s organ.

“Ekweremadu was arrested with $20,000 in his possession which has been seized.”

The senator and his wife got legal representation and begged the court for bail, stating that their passports had been seized but the judge denied them bail and remanded them in custody till July 7, 2022.

However, a letter written to the British High Commission in Abuja in which the embattled senator sought a visa for Ukpo later surfaced on social media.

The letter dated December 28, 2021, titled, “Re: Medical visa application for Ukpo David,’ read, “I am writing in support of the visa application made by Mr Ukpo Nwamini David who is currently having medical investigations for a kidney donation to Ms Sonia Ekweremadu.

“David and Sonia will be at the Royal Free Hospital London, and I will be providing the necessary funding. I have enclosed a statement of my bank account. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require additional information.”

Meanwhile, the British High Commission told one of our correspondents that it was aware of the case.

The commission’s spokesman, Dean Hurlock, however, refused to confirm if the Mission received Ekweremadu’s letter.

Hurlock said, “We are aware that the Metropolitan Police in the UK have charged two people with conspiracy offences linked to allegations of organ harvesting. As this is a live UK police investigation, I am obliged to tell you to contact the Met office if you have any questions related to this.”

But the Met Police declined to comment on the case, stating that the case was in court.

The Senate’s spokesman, Senator Ajibola Basiru, and Ekweremadu’s media aide, Uche Anichukwu, were not available for comment.

Action sacrilegious -MASSOB

The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra described the arrest of the former deputy senate president for alleged child trafficking and organ harvesting as sacrilegious.

While applauding the development, the pro-Biafra group vowed to commit Ekweremadu and his wife to the ancestors for speedy trial and judgment to serve as a “deterrent to many of their likes who are in the business of organ harvesting,” which it said had increased the wanton killings in the South-East.

MASSOB stated this in a statement signed by its National Director of Information, Edeson Samuel.

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Governor’s wife advises Jerusalem pilgrims on conduct

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The returnees who participated in the 2022 pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Jordan have held a thanksgiving service to appreciate God for the successful journey.

According to a statement issued by the state government, the service, held at Chapel of Christ The Light, Alausa, was graced by the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

Represented by the wife of a former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mrs Mayowa Ikuforiji, Sanwo-Olu advised the returnees to be true ambassadors of Christ and allow their encounters during the pilgrimage to strengthen their relationship with God and the people around them.

The governor’s wife said, “You cannot afford to go back to your old ways and lifestyles. As you have been described as the light and salt of the world in the Holy Book, it means that you have a lot of tasks ahead of you.”

Sanwo-Olu then thanked God on behalf of the pilgrims for the successful completion of the exercise and the journey mercies experienced.

She said, “We bless the Lord that there was no report of any negative eventuality. It is fitting at this point to state that we are indeed peculiar people with a deep sense of appreciation and we show this trait in praises and thanksgiving to God who specifically called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

In her remarks, the Secretary, Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mrs Yetunde Gbafe, said the thanksgiving service was in line with God’s injunction as recorded in Psalm 100 where believers were enjoined to come into His presence with praise and thanksgiving.

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up oil spills – Report

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up decades-old oil spills in southern Bayelsa State over a 12-year period, a new report revealed on Tuesday, as it singled out two international oil companies, Shell and Eni, for being responsible for most of the pollution.

Oil majors in Nigeria have long faced legal challenges over Niger Delta spills, which they mostly blame on sabotage and vandalism of pipelines and illegal refining.

The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission said in a report that it started an investigation in 2019 on the impact of spills and looked at evidence from forensic scientists, blood samples from people in affected areas and company data, according to Reuters.

The investigation discovered, among other findings, that toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, water, air, and in the blood of local residents, the commission said.

“The report finds failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies,” it said.

Reuters stated that a spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said the oil firm was not privy to the final report and could not comment.

An Eni spokesperson said the oil spills were due to theft to feed illegal refineries as well as illegal exports and sabotage but the company undertook to remedy all spills.

Most of the gas produced from Eni’s Nigerian unit was converted into LNG and fed local power plants, the spokesperson said, adding that “Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.”

Toxins that cause burns, lung problems and risk of cancer were widespread while oil company-led clean-ups were often poorly executed and could further contaminate soil and groundwater, the commission’s report said.

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Experts advise marketers to leverage technology

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Experts have advised marketing professionals to take advantage of technology to revamp marketing tactics.

The marketers were admonished at the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria Ikeja Chapter 3rd Annual Public Lecture held recently in Lagos.

Speakers at the event said due to the highly competitive marketing arena, marketers must be willing to adjust their approaches in response to shifting market trends and economic circumstances, to remain competitive and achieve success.

The Ikeja Chapter Chairman of NIMN and Chief Executive Officer of Procon Group, Adebayo Oke, noted that the conference was basically to review the position of things in the institute in the face of the country’s dynamic economy.

He said, “We all know that in terms of political economy, we are going to be having a change very soon. Where we are coming from, there are issues that have affected consumerism in terms of the power of a consumer, choices and whether it will get tougher or better that is why we are here. To also share knowledge among the top practitioners to floor it down.”

According to him, a lot of quacks are in the market and most companies believe marketing is anybody’s function.

“And going forward, we are going to be regulating the practice of marketing across all industries and in partnership with the international brands in the areas of marketing, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, amongst others,” he stated.

He disclosed that the institute would be partnering with most companies to ensure that only certified marketer would be allowed to practice marketing, to enable the institute get rid of all the quacks.

The President and Chairman of Council for NIMN, Idorenyen Enang, in his keynote address, highlighted the significance of marketers harnessing the potential of technology while ensuring that they adhere to ethical principles of the profession.

He said, “The benefits of technology in streamlining operations are widely appreciated. However, concerns about job displacement due to AI have arisen. Marketers must strive for a harmonious implementation of these technologies, striking a balance that mitigates such disadvantages.”

He added that while automation greatly enhances efficiency, there is a potential loss of intellectual capacity as the current generation prioritises speed, brevity, and simplicity.

Also, the Head Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Media & Insights of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc, Ifeoluwa Obafemi, said, “In the phase of technological advancement and changes in consumer behaviour, as marketing professionals, we should set our organisation in a future forward mode. For businesses to maintain a competitive edge in the present-day business environment, undergoing a marketing transformation is a necessary process.”

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Axiom Intel Limited, Kolawole Oyeyemi, said, “Marketers should attract and retain their customers. Nowadays, customers are now more informed and know your business more than you do because they now compare your services to global best practices.

“There is a revolution in technology which has assisted in creating tools and devices and building platforms to allow customers to interact with companies across the world.”

According to him, it is a volatile environment and things one does not think will connect one’s business may connect from a very long distance.

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