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A Nigerian politician has been sentenced to nine years in prison in the UK for his involvement in a plot to traffic organs.

 

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

Judge says Ike Ekweremadu was ‘driving force’ in scheme to take kidney for his sick daughter from man brought to London

 

A prominent Nigerian politician, Ike Ekweremadu, along with his wife, Beatrice, and Dr. Obinna Obeta, have been sentenced to nine years and eight months in prison by a UK court for their involvement in a plot to harvest a kidney from a trafficked young man to save Ekweremadu’s daughter’s life. The 60-year-old former deputy president of the Nigerian senate, his wife, and Obeta were convicted in March by an Old Bailey jury, marking the first organ trafficking conviction under the Modern Slavery Act. The trio conspired to bring a 21-year-old street trader from Lagos to a private renal unit at London’s Royal Free Hospital as a potential donor for Ekweremadu’s daughter, Sonia.

On Friday, Mr. Justice Jeremy Johnson, delivering the sentencing remarks, described the organ trafficking plot as a “despicable trade” and said that it treated human beings and their bodies as commodities to be bought and sold, which amounts to slavery. He also pointed out that Ike Ekweremadu was part of the Nigerian Senate when it outlawed organ trafficking.

The judge said that Ekweremadu played a leading role in the plot to secure a human kidney for his daughter, adding that his conviction represented a substantial fall from grace. He further stated that the former politician must serve two-thirds of his sentence in prison and the remainder released under license.

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Beatrice Ekweremadu was sentenced to four years and six months, with half spent in custody, while Obeta, who was convicted of organizing the plot after receiving a kidney transplant at the Royal Free in July 2021 from another trafficked Nigerian, was sentenced to 10 years, two-thirds of which must be served in prison.

The plot was uncovered after the intended donor, referred to as “C,” went to the police in fear of his life, believing he was being lined up for another transplant in Nigeria. In a victim’s statement read to the court, he said he was still fearful of reprisals against him and his family and that he couldn’t return home to Nigeria because the people involved were powerful and he was worried for his safety.

Prosecutor Hugh Davies KC said that the plot exploited economically vulnerable individuals and that Ike Ekweremadu was an active and essential part of the conspiracy, despite playing a significant role in the 2014 legislation that prohibited the very activity he engaged in.

A Nigerian politician and two co-conspirators have been sentenced by an Old Bailey jury in the UK for their involvement in an organ trafficking plot. Ike Ekweremadu, a former deputy president of the Nigerian senate, was sentenced to nine years and eight months in prison, his wife to four years and six months, and Dr Obinna Obeta to 10 years. They were found guilty of conspiring to bring a 21-year-old Lagos street trader to a private renal unit at London’s Royal Free hospital as a potential kidney donor for Ekweremadu’s daughter Sonia. The case marks the first organ trafficking conviction under the Modern Slavery Act. The attempted transplant was rejected by the hospital in March 2022, and the plot was uncovered when the male victim went to the police in May. In his sentencing remarks, Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson described the harvesting of human organs as a form of slavery, which treated humans and their bodies as commodities to be bought and sold. Nigeria’s senate and the Economic Community of West African States had urged the judge to show clemency to Ekweremadu, who was a political ally of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

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