British jury finds Nigerian politician guilty of organ harvesting plot

Nigeria AFPFile
MAR 25, 2023 LISTEN

A London jury has found Nigeria's former deputy Senate president guilty of plotting to harvest a street trader's kidney for his sick daughter.

Former Nigerian senator Ike Ekweremadu, 60, his wife Beatrice, 56, and doctor Obinna Obeta, 50, were this week found guilty of conspiring to exploit a young man from Lagos for his organs in the first case of its kind under the UK's 2015 Modern Slavery Act.

The maximum sentence under the legislation is life imprisonment. The trio will be sentenced on 5 May, while Ekweremadu's daughter Sonia, 25, was cleared of the same charge.

During the trial at London's Central Criminal Court, the 21-year-old victim from Lagos testified that the Ekweremadus had flown him to the UK to harvest his kidney for a payment of up to €8,260.

The organ was  intended for Sonia, who was on dialysis with a renal condition.

'Utter disregard'

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been recruited by a doctor working for the politician, and only realised he was to donate his kidney when he was taken to London's Royal Free Hospital last year.

He fled and slept on the streets for three days after doctors there told him he would not be a suitable donor following preliminary tests.

The former street trader eventually walked into a police station last May and said he was “looking for someone to save my life”.

The Ekweremadus's lawyers had argued that the young man was acting “altruistically”, but the judge agreed with prosecutors that Ike Ekweremadu could try to flee the UK and so he was denied bail.

Chief Crown Prosecutor Joanne Jakymec said the defendants had “showed utter disregard for the victim's welfare, health and wellbeing, and used their considerable influence to a high degree of control throughout”.

Detective Inspector Esther Richardson, from the Metropolitan Police's Modern Slavery and Exploitation Command, said the case was a “landmark conviction” and praised the victim for his bravery in speaking out against his offenders.

(with wires)