Ekweremadu, wife, doctor found guilty of organ trafficking

A United Kingdom (UK) court at the Old Bailey on Thursday, March 23 convicted a former Nigerian Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, his wife and a doctor of organ trafficking, in the first verdict of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act.

Ekweremadu, 60, his wife, Beatrice, 56, and the doctor, Obinna Obeta, 51, were found guilty of facilitating the travel of a 21-year-old Nigerian man to Britain with a view to exploit him.

Prosecutor Hugh Davies KC said the Ekweremadus and Obeta had treated the man and other potential donors as “disposable assets” and “spare parts for reward”, a behaviour that showed “entitlement, dishonesty and hypocrisy”.

He said Ekweremadu, who owns several properties and had a staff of 80, “agreed to reward someone for a kidney for his daughter – somebody in circumstances of poverty and from whom he distanced himself and made no inquiries, and with whom, for his own political protection, he wanted no direct contact”.

“What he agreed to do was not simply expedient in the clinical interests of his daughter, Sonia, it was exploitation, it was criminal. It is no defence to say he acted out of love for his daughter. Her clinical needs cannot come at the expense of the exploitation of somebody in poverty,” Davies added.

All the accused had denied the charges and Ekweremadu had told the court that he was the victim of a scam, while Obeta claimed the man was not offered a reward for his kidney and was acting altruistically.

However, a WhatsApp message tendered as evidence by the prosecutor revealed Obeta charged Ekweremadu N4.5 million (about £8,000), to help find a suitable kidney donor.

In February 2022, the donor was falsely presented to a private renal unit at Royal Free Hospital in London as Sonia’s cousin in a failed attempt to persuade medics to carry out an £80,000 transplant.






     

     

    For a fee, a medical secretary at the hospital acted as an Igbo translator between the man and the doctors to help try to convince them he was an altruistic donor, the court heard.

    Davies said Ekweremadu ignored medical advice to find a donor for his daughter among genuine family members.

    On her part, Beatrice denied any knowledge of the alleged conspiracy and Sonia did not give evidence.

    The Court found the accused guilty of criminally conspiring to bring the 21-year-old street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney and has reserved sentence for a later date.

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