The Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey UK, on Friday sentenced former deputy denate president, Ike Ekweremadu to nine years and eight months in prison for organ trafficking.
Ekweremadu’s wife, Beatrice, was sentenced to four years and six months in jail, while the medical doctor who acted as a ‘middleman’ in the plot, Dr Obinna Obeta, was sentenced to 10 years and his medical licence was also suspended. BBC reports.
Investogist reported on March 23 that Ekweremadu; his wife Beatrice; and their doctor, Obinna Obeta were found guilty of organ trafficking in the United Kingdom.
Their conviction on Thursday was the first verdict of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 of the UK.
The jury held that they criminally conspired to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney.
The Ekweremadus were arrested by the London Metropolitan Police in June 2022.
They were alleged to have attempted to convince doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in London to perform an £80,000 transplant on the donor who was presented as the cousin of their daughter Sonia.
The prosecutor Hugh Davies KC told the court on Thursday the Ekweremadus and 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.
The behaviour of Ekweremadu, a successful lawyer and founder of an anti-poverty charity who helped draw up Nigeria’s laws against organ trafficking, showed “entitlement, dishonesty and hypocrisy”, Davies told the jury.
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”.
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.”
He added that they entered an “emotionally cold commercial transaction” with the 21-year-old, offering him up to £7,000 in reward.
Ekweremadu, who denied the charge, told the court he was the victim of a scam. Obeta, who also denied the charge, claimed the man was not offered a reward for his kidney and was acting altruistically. Beatrice denied any knowledge of the alleged conspiracy. Sonia, Ekweremadu’s 25-year-old daughter, did not give evidence.
Ifunanya Ikueze is an Engineer, Safety Professional, Writer, Investor, Entrepreneur and Educator.