A powerful and wealthy Nigerian senator, Ike Ekweremadu, has been sentenced to nine years and eight months in a UK prison. Ekweremadu’s wife, Beatrice, also bagged four years and six months in prison, while one Dr. Obinna Obeta was handed 10 years imprisonment. The trio was convicted for bringing a poor Nigerian street trader to the UK to harvest his kidney.
According to the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Ekweremadus arranged to bring the unnamed 21-year-old Nigerian to the UK to have his organ harvested and donated to their daughter, Sonia, who suffers a deteriorating kidney failure that requires frequent dialysis. Ekweremadu reportedly passed off the young boy as Sonia’s nephew who desired to donate his kidney to save the lady to UK doctors.
A former deputy president of the Senate and a current opposition senator, Ekweremadu allegedly promised to secure employment for the boy and also pay him some thousands of pounds after the procedure. The boy was taken to the Royal Free Hospital where the £80,000 procedure was to be performed.
During further tests, the boy overheard doctors talking about a kidney transplant and he panicked; he ran out of the hospital and into a police station where he explained that he was trafficked into the UK for organ harvesting without his prior consent. One of the doctors also called the police after observing that the boy was nervous, doubting that he consented to the procedure.
After they were convicted in March, UK’s Justice Johnson said the Ekweremadus and their doctor who arranged the entire medical procedure engaged in modern-day slavery by attempting to harvest the organ of their victim. “People-trafficking across international borders for the harvesting of human organs is a form of slavery,” he said.
Dr. Obeta, 50, was sentenced to 10 years in prison because he arranged the kidney transplant procedure with UK doctors. Ekweremadu, 60, was handed nine years and eight months because he financed the entire operation; and Beatrice, 56, was given four years and six months for her limited participation in the affair. Their daughter was acquitted but she watched from the public gallery as her parents and doctor were sentenced on Friday.
The deputy chief crown prosecutor and head of the national modern slavery at the CPS, Lynette Woodrow, said that this was the first human trafficking for organ removal case to be fully prosecuted and convicted in England and Wales. “With all trafficking offenses, the consent of the person trafficked is no defense,” she said. “The law is clear: you cannot consent to your own exploitation.”
A charity organization in the UK is presently helping the trafficked young boy who has refused to return to Nigeria because “these people are extremely powerful and I worry for my safety.”