Nigerian politician, Ekweremadu, wife, and a doctor guilty of organ trafficking to UK

By Stermy 5 Min Read
Dr Obinna Obeta, Beatrice Ekweremadu, and Ike Ekweremadu
  • Ike Ekweremadu, wife found guilty of Organ trafficking
  • Also Included is Dr Obinna Obeta
  • The trio claims they are not guilty to the crime
  • Judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson, will pass sentence on 5 May.

The first conviction of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act saw a former deputy president of the Nigerian senate, Ike Ekweremadu, 60, along with his wife, Beatrice, 56, and Dr Obinna Obeta, 51, being found guilty of organ trafficking.

After a six-week trial at the Old Bailey, they were convicted of aiding in the travel of a young man to Britain with the intention of exploiting him.

As per the jury’s verdict, they had illegally conspired to bring a 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London with the aim of exploiting him for his kidney.

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The court heard that the man, who remains unnamed for legal reasons, was promised an unlawful reward to become a donor for the senator’s daughter, Sonia Ekweremadu, who had to withdraw from her master’s degree in film at Newcastle University due to kidney disease.

However, Sonia Ekweremadu was found not guilty. As her parents were sentenced and taken away from the dock, she cried in the court room.

Ike Ekweremadu and his wife
Ike Ekweremadu and his wife

According to a report by the UK Guardian, in February 2022, the man was deceitfully presented as Sonia’s cousin at a private renal unit in London’s Royal Free hospital, in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the medical staff to perform an £80,000 transplant. A medical secretary at the hospital acted as an Igbo translator between the man and the doctors for a fee, to aid in convincing them that he was an altruistic donor, as per the court’s hearing.

During the court hearing, prosecutor Hugh Davies KC accused the Ekweremadus and Obeta of treating the man and other potential donors as “disposable assets” and using them as “spare parts for reward”. He further added that they had engaged in an “emotionally cold commercial transaction” with the man.

Davies also criticized Ekweremadu, who is a successful lawyer and the founder of an anti-poverty charity, for displaying “entitlement, dishonesty, and hypocrisy”.

Despite being involved in drafting Nigeria’s laws against organ trafficking, Ekweremadu agreed to reward someone in poverty for his daughter’s kidney, with whom he distanced himself and made no inquiries. He also wanted no direct contact with the person for his own political protection, even though he owns multiple properties and has a staff of 80.

Davies added: “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.”

Mr. Ekweremadu had denied the charge against him and claimed to be a victim of a scam. Similarly, Mr. Obeta also denied the charge and claimed that the man was acting altruistically and was not offered any reward for his kidney.

Beatrice Ekweremadu, Mr. Ekweremadu’s wife, denied having any knowledge of the alleged conspiracy, while Sonia did not testify in court.

However, WhatsApp messages presented in court revealed that Mr. Obeta charged Mr. Ekweremadu N4.5 million (approximately £8,000) for an “agent fee” and a “donor fee”.

Subsequently, both Messrs Ekweremadu and Obeta admitted to falsely claiming that the man who according to Premiumtimesng is identified as Mr. Nwamini was Sonia’s cousin in his visa application and in documents presented to the hospital.

Chief Crown Prosecutor Joanne Jakymec commented on the verdict, calling it a “horrific plot” to exploit a vulnerable victim and traffick him to the UK for the purpose of kidney transplantation. She further added that the convicted defendants showed no regard for the victim’s welfare, health, and well-being and used their considerable influence to maintain a high degree of control. The victim had a limited understanding of what was going on in the case.

DI Esther Richardson, from the Metropolitan Police’s Modern Slavery and Exploitation Command, hailed the verdict as a landmark conviction and praised the victim’s bravery in speaking out against the offenders.

The sentencing for the case has been scheduled for 5th May and it will be presided over by Mr. Justice Jeremy Johnson.

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By Stermy
Stermy is one Crazy fan of the word "Internet". Always online to stay informed and keep others updated. #townflex