UK Court Finds Ekweremadu, Wife, Doctor Guilty of Organ Trafficking
By Adedapo Adesanya
Senator Ike Ekweremadu, 60, his wife Beatrice, 56, and their medical middleman, Dr Obinna Obeta, 50, have been convicted of conspiring to exploit a young man for his kidney in the first such case under modern slavery laws.
The Nigerian politician, his wife, and the medical doctor were, on Thursday, March 23, found guilty of an organ-trafficking plot, which saw them bring a 21-year-old man to the UK from Lagos.
The Old Bailey heard the organ was for the couple’s 25-year-old daughter, identified as Miss Sonia Ekweremadu, but she was cleared of the same charge.
The victim, a street trader from Lagos, was brought to the UK last year to provide a kidney in an £80,000 private transplant at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
He said he was promised opportunities in the UK for the assistance and that he only realised what was going on when he met doctors at the hospital.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been offered an illegal reward to become a donor for the senator’s daughter after kidney disease forced her to drop out of a master’s degree in film at Newcastle University, the court heard.
In February 2022, the man 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.
It was revealed that some WhatsApp messages shown to the court revealed that Dr Obeta charged the Ekweremadus a sum of N4.5 million (about £8,000) under the guise of an agent fee and donor fee.
The prosecutor Hugh Davies KC told the court that the Ekweremadus and Dr Obeta had treated the man and other potential donors as “disposable assets – spare parts for reward”.
He said they entered an “emotionally cold commercial transaction” with the man.
In June last year, the Met Police announced that “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.
“Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55 (10.9.66) of Nigeria, is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
Mr Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, were arrested on June 23 and charged with conspiracy to traffic a person for organ harvesting in violation of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Business Post gathered that the judge in the case, Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson, will pass sentence on Friday, May 5.