Nigeria’s Former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; his wife Beatrice; and their doctor, Obinna Obeta have been found guilty of organ trafficking in the first verdict of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act.
Ekweremadu and his wife were charged in the United Kingdom after they allegedly lured a young man from Nigeria to harvest his organ for their ailing daughter, Sonia.
The lawmaker was last year arrested and had been in the custody of UK authorities after they received complaints from the young man about their alleged plans to harvest his organ.
Now, Uncovered reports that the couple and their doctor have been found guilty of facilitating the travel of the young man to Britain with a view to his exploitation after a six-week trial at the Old Bailey.
And according to UK Guardian, they criminally conspired to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney, the jury found.
The prosecutor Hugh Davies KC told the court on Thursday 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.
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.”
Ekweremadu, who denied the charge, told the court he was the victim of a scam. Dr. 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 did not give evidence.
The judge, Justice Jeremy Johnson, will pass a sentence at a later date.