Ekweremadu and wife found guilty of organ trafficking

Ike Ekweremadu, former vice president of the Senate, and his wife, Beatrice, were found guilty of organ trafficking in the United Kingdom.

After a six-week trial at the Old Bailey, the couple, along with their daughter, Sonia, and a medical practitioner, Dr. Obinna Obeta, were convicted guilty of aiding a young man’s journey to Britain for the purpose of his exploitation.

A jury decided on Thursday that the defendants had criminally plotted to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street vendor to London in order to exploit him for his kidney.

The prosecutor Hugh Davies KC told the court on Thursday that 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 own 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 a sentence at a later date.

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