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Ekweremadu Sentenced 10 Years In Jail in UK’s First Organ Trafficking Conviction

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LONDON, United Kingdom — Ike Ekweremadu, a former deputy president of the Nigerian senate, has been sentenced to nine years and eight months in prison in the UK for his role in a sinister organ trafficking plot.

Ekweremadu, his wife, Beatrice, 56, and Dr Obinna Obeta, 51, were found guilty by an Old Bailey jury in March, marking the first organ trafficking conviction under the Modern Slavery Act.

Ekweramadu
Ike Ekweremadu, 60, (left) Dr Obinna Obeta, 51, (top right) and Beatrice Ekweremadu, 56. | AP

The trio was found to have conspired to traffic a 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London’s Royal Free hospital as a potential kidney donor for Ekweremadu’s daughter, Sonia.

In his sentencing remarks on Friday, May 5, 2023 Mr. Justice Jeremy Johnson called the act a “despicable trade,” adding that “the harvesting of human organs is a form of slavery. It treats human beings and their bodies as commodities to be bought and sold.”

Justice Johnson emphasised that Ekweremadu had been a member of the Nigerian senate when it outlawed organ trafficking.

Addressing Ekweremadu, the judge said, “You played a leading role in the offending. You did so in order to secure the material advantage, namely a human kidney for your daughter. I am sure that you were the driving force throughout.”

The judge also noted Ekweremadu’s involvement in the corruption of a hospital staff member.

Despite pleas for clemency from Nigeria’s senate and the Economic Community of West African States, Ekweremadu must serve two-thirds of his sentence in prison and the remainder released under licence.

Beatrice Ekweremadu was sentenced to four years and six months, with half spent in custody. Obeta, who helped organize the organ harvesting plot after receiving a kidney transplant from another alleged trafficking victim, was sentenced to 10 years, two-thirds of which must be served in prison.

The hospital ultimately rejected the attempted transplant in March 2022.

The plot came to light when the male victim, referred to as “C” in court, went to the police in May, fearing for his life and believing Obeta was targeting him for another transplant in Nigeria.

The victim, whose identity is protected, expressed fear of reprisals against him and his family, stating that he could not think of returning to Nigeria due to the extreme power and influence of the people involved.

Prosecutor Hugh Davies KC emphasised the severity of the crime and the hypocrisy of Ekweremadu’s actions, as he played a significant role in the 2014 legislation that prohibited the very activity he engaged in.

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