Nigerian Senator Ike Ekweremadu & Wife Convicted Of Organ Trafficking Under Modern Slavery Act
Ex Nigerian Deputy Senate President Ekweremadu & Wife Convicted Of Organ Trafficking Under Modern Slavery Act
Former Deputy Senate President of Nigeria, Ike Ekweremadu, his wife, and two others have been convicted of organ trafficking, in what is being called the first verdict of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act. According to The Guardian UK, the four individuals were found guilty of facilitating the travel of a young man to Britain with a view to his exploitation after a six-week trial at the Old Bailey.
The jury ruled that they criminally conspired to bring a 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney. 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.
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 prosecutor, Hugh Davies KC, told the court that 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 behavior 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”.
According to the report, the prosecutor added that “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 defense 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.”
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, while Sonia did not give evidence.
The case has once again brought the issue of organ trafficking to the forefront. It is a heinous crime that involves the illegal buying and selling of organs for transplantation. It preys on the vulnerable, particularly those living in poverty, who are lured into the trade with promises of payment.
Organ trafficking is a violation of human rights and is recognized as a form of modern-day slavery. It is a complex issue that requires the concerted efforts of law enforcement, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and civil society to tackle.
The conviction of Ekweremadu and his co-conspirators sends a strong message that organ trafficking will not be tolerated, and perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions. It is a reminder that everyone has a role to play in combating this heinous crime, from increasing awareness to supporting victims and survivors. Only then can we hope to eliminate organ trafficking and bring justice to those affected by it.