On May 5, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, his wife Beatrice, and their doctor Obinna Obeta will face sentencing after being convicted of organ trafficking in the first verdict of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act in the United Kingdom. The former deputy senate president, his wife, and Dr. Obeta were found guilty of facilitating the travel of a 21-year-old Lagos street trader to Britain with the intent to exploit him for his kidney.
The man had been offered a reward to donate his kidney to the senator’s daughter who had dropped out of a master’s degree in film at Newcastle University due to kidney disease. The trio attempted to pass him off as a cousin at the Royal Free hospital in London in order to receive an £80,000 transplant.
Prosecutor Hugh Davies KC told the court that the Ekweremadus and Obeta had treated the man and other potential donors as “disposable assets – spare parts for reward”. He also stated that Ekweremadu, a successful lawyer and founder of an anti-poverty charity, had acted with “entitlement, dishonesty and hypocrisy”. WhatsApp messages revealed that Obeta had charged Ekweremadu an “agent fee” and a “donor fee”.
Ekweremadu denied the charge and claimed he was the victim of a scam. Obeta also denied the charge and said 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 on May 5.