UK Court Sentences Ekweremadu, Wife, Doctor to Jail Terms for Organ Harvesting Conspiracy

UK Court Sentences Ekweremadu, Wife, Doctor to Jail Terms for Organ Harvesting Conspiracy

Despite pleadings from political leaders, organisations and sociocultural groups, the UK Court on Friday applied the big hammer on former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, dishing out a sentence of nine years and eight months in prison for an organ trafficking plot. Maximum sentence for the offence is ten years. The judge, Justice Jeremy Johnson,

Despite pleadings from political leaders, organisations and sociocultural groups, the UK Court on Friday applied the big hammer on former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, dishing out a sentence of nine years and eight months in prison for an organ trafficking plot. Maximum sentence for the offence is ten years.

The judge, Justice Jeremy Johnson, also sentenced his wife, Beatrice, to four years six months while the medical doctor who acted as a ‘middleman’ in the plot, Dr Obinna Obeta, was sentenced to 10 years and his medical licence was also suspended.

The case marked the first time defendants have been convicted under the Modern Slavery Act of an organ harvesting conspiracy. The trio were jailed for conspiring to traffic a market trader, David Nwamini to the United Kingdom, to harvest his kidney.

Though it is is lawful to donate a kidney, it becomes criminal if money or another material advantage is rewarded, which in this case was establihed against the Ekweremadus and the Doctor.

Metropolitan police in June 2022 arraigned Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu and Ike Ekweremadu, who are 55 and 60 years old respectively at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court.

The Senator representing Enugu West Senatorial District, was arrested and charged by MET Police in June 2022 for conspiracy to traffic a man, whose name was later revealed as David Nwamini (Ukpo), to the UK for the purpose of harvesting his organ to treat his ailing daughter, Sonia.

Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice were arrested by the British police on June 23rd 2022 on allegations of human trafficking and organ harvesting that violate the country’s Modern Slavery Act.

“A child has been safeguarded and we are working closely with partners on continued support. As criminal proceedings are now underway we will not be providing further details.”

“What we believe to be accurate is that the 15-year-old individual was taken off the street of Lagos by a criminal guy for the purpose of organ harvesting,”

“I believe the Senator and his wife have a very ill child they wanted to use this individual’s organs to try and keep her alive, which if done properly, is legal. You are able to donate your organ but age and consent were key issues.

“There were consultations at the Royal Free Hospital in East London. The consultant said something is not right. They didn’t believe that this individual was the age on his document. They didn’t believe that he did consent to donate his “,UK police said.

To put a lie to the critical issue of age,the Senator’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, on July 27 th, 2022 urged Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court,Abuja to order the release of certain official documents of Ukpo, the victim, domiciled with NIMC, Nigerian Immigration Service and Stanbic-IBTC Bank for the purpose of effectively defending Ekweremadu in the UK.

The prayers were granted by Justice Inyang Ekwo who ordered the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to transmit the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the bio-data information of an alleged Minor to the Attorney General of the Federation for onward transmission to the UK to aid Ekweremadu’s trial.

But on March 27th 2023, Senator Ekweremadu, his wife, Beatrice, and their doctor Obinna Obeta were found culpable of violating the Modern Slavery Act and thus convicted.

The court found the trio guilty of facilitating the travel of a young man to Britain with a view to his exploitation after a six-week trial at the Old Bailey.

The court agreed with the prosecutor that they criminally conspired to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney.

The court was also told that the organ donor had been offered an illegal reward to become a donor for the senator’s daughter after kidney disease forced her to drop out of a master’s degree in film at Newcastle University, the court heard.

In February 2022 the 21-year-old, the court said, was falsely presented to a private renal unit at Royal Free hospital in London as a cousin to Ekweremadu’s daughter Sonia in a failed attempt to persuade medics to carry out an £80,000 transplant.

For a fee, a medical secretary at the hospital acted as an Igbo translator between the man and the doctors to help try to convince them he was an altruistic donor, the court heard.

The prosecutor , Mr. 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.

Mr. Davies said Senator Ekweremadu’s behaviour showed “entitlement, dishonesty and hypocrisy”. Senator Ekweremadu is one Nigerian lawmakers that initiated the country’s laws against organ trafficking.

Mr. 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 denied the charge and told the court he was the victim of a scam.

The Doctor 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.

However, WhatsApp messages showed to the court revealed Dr. Obeta charged Senator Ekweremadu 4.5m naira (about £8,000) made up of an “agent fee” and a “donor fee”.

Senator Ekweremadu and Dr. Obeta admitted falsely claiming the man was Sonia’s cousin in his visa application and in documents presented to the hospital.

Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President disclosed to his fellow senators that:”I have written a letter to the British judicial authorities about three weeks ago on behalf of the Senate seeking Clemency, given the history of Senator Ekweremadu. That letter made no impact as the Ekweremadus and Dr. Obeta were convicted on March 27th, this year.

But few days after the conviction, precisely on April 5th,2023, former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote to the United Kingdom court that found former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice, guilty of organ trafficking.

In the letter addressed to the Chief Clerk, the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, in London, the former President asked the Clerk to intervene and ensure the UK government tempered justice with mercy on the matter.

Four days to the sentencing of Senator Ekweremadu the nation’s lower legislative chamber, the House of Representatives on Tuesday asked the government of the United Kingdom and the court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing the senator.

On Tuesday, Hon.Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) during plenary raised a motion of urgent public importance calling on Nigeria’s former colonial master and her court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing Senator Ike Ekweremadu found guilty in March of “organ trafficking”.

To put necessary pressure on the matter, the House of Representatives also urged the Nigerian government to take all diplomatic steps and other necessary interventions regarding the travails of the Ekweremadu family.

On Wednesday, the Nigerian Senate also begged the United Kingdom authorities for clemency over the sentencing of its former deputy president, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife.

According to the Senate, both Ekweremadu and his wife are first offenders, adding that in as much as it was not appealing the sentencing, that it was only asking for clemency.

“That since the matter was in the United Kingdom, that a novel approach in sentencing of the convicts be adopted by tempering justice with mercy, as the publicity already given to the trial was enough warning to the would-be offenders in the future.

“That considering the long history of good relationship existing between Nigeria and the British government and considering that this is the first time that the Senate is making this kind of plea on the British government to yield to our request for clemency for the Ekweremadus’ in their sentencing.”

The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS Parliament, where Senator Ekweremadu was a former Speaker, also appealed to the United Kingdom authorities to grant Senator Ike Ekweremadu clemency in view of his conviction on charges of organ harvesting.

In a letter by the Speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, Dr. Sidie Mohamed Tunis, he urged the United Kingdom Court to temper justice with mercy. In the letter addressed to the Chief Clerk, Central Criminal Court Old Bailey, London, the Speaker said though the ECOWAS frowns at the crime for which Ekweremadu had been convicted, it believes that lessons had been learnt.

The Speaker said Ekweremadu was known for his various interventions on issues affecting the wellbeing of the citizens.

Apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide on Thursday pleaded with the United Kingdom to temper justice with mercy in the case involving former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.

In a statement made available to journalists on Thursday, 24hours to the sentencing of the convicts,the National President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike pleaded with the UK to grant Ekweremadu, his wife and the third accused person, a medical doctor, clemency.

Also, members of the Ikeoha Mpu Pacesetters League IMPL ,his home town cultural group joined their voices in calling on the UK Court to show clemency to their mentor, and brother by releasing him and his wife unconditionally.

Already , the people of Mpu community held a prayer vigil till Thursday morning to pray for divine intervention, stressing that the long absence of the lawmaker, who they said transformed Aninri LGA and gave a new lease of life to thousands, was already affecting them.

In a press conference, addressed by President General of the Association, Chijioke Benjamin Ezekwe said Ekweremadu is a big tree and his fall would spell doom for thousands.

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