By Nehru Odeh
After a six-week trial at the Old Baily, former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, his wife Beatrice, and their doctor, Dr Obinna Obeta have been found guilty of organ trafficking.
However, the Ekweremadus’ daughter Sonia, 25, wept as she was cleared of the same charge on Thursday.
The victim, a 21-year-old street trader from Lagos, was brought to the UK last year to provide a kidney to Sonia in an £80,000 private transplant at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
Emweremadu, 60, his wife Beatrice, 56; and Obeta, 51, were found guilty of facilitating that travel to exploit the young man
They criminally conspired to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney, the jury found.
This is the first time defendants have been convicted under the Modern Slavery Act of organ harvesting and conspiracy.
As reported by Channels Television, the prosecutor Hugh Davies KC told the court the Ekweremadus and 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 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. 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, Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson, will pass sentence at a later date