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Victim hits back as Nigerian politician jailed for UK organ trafficking plot: ‘My body is not for sale’

May 5, 2023

The judge told the defendants: ‘You each played a part in that despicable trade’…….

A wealthy Nigerian politician has been jailed for 9 years for plotting to harvest a man’s kidney as the victim hit back at the trio telling them “my body is not for sale.”

Senator Ike Ekweremadu, 60, his wife Beatrice, 56, and medical “middleman” Dr Obinna Obeta, 51, were found guilty at the Old Bailey of conspiring to arrange the travel of a young man with a view to exploiting him for his body part.

The Ekweremadus’ 25-year-old daughter, Sonia, who has a severe kidney disease, was present in court alongside her older brother Lloyd and other members of the Ekweremadu family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is the first time defendants have been convicted under the Modern Slavery Act of an organ-harvesting conspiracy, which carried a maximum life sentence.

Mr Ekweremadu, who owns £6 million worth of properties in the UK, USA and United Arab Emirates, was jailed for a total of 10 years and 8 months, and his wife, wearing a purple shirt and black cardigan was sentenced to 4 years and six months imprisonment while medical middle-man Dr Obinna Obeta, wept, as he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

The victim’s impact statement was read in court revealing his humble background in a Lagos village where he is the oldest of seven siblings living in a home without electricity or running water.

He was forced to become a street trader full time moving to the city to provide for his family when his father fell ill with a heart problem. He sold mobile phone accessories from a wheelbarrow making at most £7 a day and as little as 50p.

He said he was approached with an opportunity to work in the UK, something he had “always dreamed of but never thought would happen.”

However, he says he was shocked to discover the reason for the trip was to harvest his organs to give to Sonia.

“He [Dr Obina Obeta] did not tell me he brought me here for this reason, he did not tell me anything about this. I would have not agreed to any of this, my body is not for sale,” the victim, who cannot be named because of legal reasons, said.

He added that he cannot return to Nigeria and that the Ekweremadus are very dangerous and he worries for his safety. He said someone visited his father in Nigeria and asked him to get the victim, his son, to drop the case.

“I worry for my safety in Nigeria those people can do anything. I think they could arrest me or kill me in Nigeria.”

He told police he did not want to claim compensation from the “bad people” as it would be “cursed and bad luck”.

He said: “My plan now is to work and to get an education and to play football.”

Ike Ekweremadu’s legal team submitted 51-pages of character reference to support a lenient sentence for the husband and wife including statements from the former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, the speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives and the attorney general of Nigeria.

Mr Justice Johnson began sentencing wealthy Nigerian couple Ike and Beatrice Ekweremadu and Dr Obinna Obeta in the Old Bailey for trafficking the victim.

Outlining the ground-breaking case, the senior judge said: “People-trafficking of human organs is a form of slavery.

“It treats human beings and their body parts as commodities to be bought and sold.

“It is a trade that preys on poverty, misery and desperation.”

He told the defendants: “You each played a part in that despicable trade.”

The court had heard how the victim, a 21-year-old street trader from Lagos, was brought to the UK last year to provide a kidney to Sonia Ekweremadu for an £80,000 private transplant at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

While it is lawful to donate a kidney, it becomes criminal if there is a reward of money or other material advantage.

Ike and Beatrice Ekweremadu were arrested on 21 June last year as they arrived on a flight to Heathrow, stepping off the plane with 30,000 US dollars.

A search of Obeta’s address on the Old Kent Road in south London revealed a fake affidavit stating the victim and Sonia were biological cousins.

Examination of the defendants’ phones revealed a stream of messages detailing the progress of the failed organ transplant plan.

Sonia had become sick while studying for a masters degree at Newcastle University in December 2019.

Obeta was the former medical school classmate of Ike Ekweremadu’s brother and had undergone a kidney transplant at the Royal Free Hospital himself.

His donor also came from the street market in Lagos and knew the victim in the case.

The defendants denied conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, claiming they believed the victim was acting “altruistically”.

Sonia Ekweremadu was cleared of wrongdoing by the jury. (Independent)

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