Ike Ekweremadu: Nigerian politician and wife jailed for organ-trafficking plot

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This prosecution is the first of its kind under modern slavery laws in the United Kingdom.

A senior Nigerian Senator, his wife and a doctor have been jailed for an organ-trafficking plot, after bringing a man to the UK from Lagos.

Senator Ike Ekweremadu, 60, and his wife Beatrice, 56 had wanted a new kidney for their 25-year-old daughter Sonia.

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The pair and Dr Obinna Obeta, 50, were previously convicted of conspiring to exploit the man.

It is said to be the first such case under modern slavery laws.

Senator Ike Ekweremadu is a prominent Nigerian politicianSenator Ike Ekweremadu is a prominent Nigerian politician
Senator Ike Ekweremadu is a prominent Nigerian politician | Credit: Met Police

Ekweremadu, was sentenced to nine years and eight months in prison, while his wife Beatrice was sentenced to four years and six months’ imprisonment. They both resided in Abuja, Nigeria.

Doctor Obinna Obeta, 51 of Hillbeck Close, Southwark, was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

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The victim survivor, who must not be named for legal reasons, has declined applying for compensation, irrespective of the financial benefit he stood to make.

In his victim impact statement he described how he wanted to put the entire ordeal behind him. His plan is to work, get an education and play football.

They were sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday May 5 after being convicted of conspiracy to arrange / facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation – namely organ harvesting on Thursday March 23, following a six-week trial.

Beatrice Ekweremadu has been jailed for four years and six monthsBeatrice Ekweremadu has been jailed for four years and six months
Beatrice Ekweremadu has been jailed for four years and six months | Credit: Met Police

Victim survivor

During the investigation detectives discovered the victim, who is 21 years of age, came from a remote village in Nigeria.

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They learnt how he was deceived into being trafficked to the UK for the purpose of having his kidney removed and then donated to the daughter of the Ekweremadus. He was led to believe he was being brought to the UK to earn money for his family.

He was provided with a passport and also provided with a medical travel Visa. He had previously been taken for blood tests in Nigeria which he believed were for his Visa requirements. These were instead to determine if he was a medically suitable match.

On February 20 2022, the victim was brought to the UK in the company of Isaac Onwudiwe Ekweremadu, and taken to Obeta’s flat in Southwark.

On February 24 2022, the victim attended his first medical screening at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

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The court heard how it became apparent to the doctor carrying out the screening that the victim had limited understanding of why he was there. After several appointments the victim realised he was to donate a kidney.

The consultant picked up the fear and panic this caused the victim. The hospital went on to decline to complete the procedure.

Doctor Obinna Obeta was described as the “middle man” in the plotDoctor Obinna Obeta was described as the “middle man” in the plot
Doctor Obinna Obeta was described as the “middle man” in the plot | Credit: Met Police

The victim returned to the address in south London. He described the mood in the property had changed significantly and he was treated as a ‘slave’. A few days later he managed to escape the property, becoming homeless for around three days.

The Ekweremadus paid a health tourism company in the UK to facilitate the medical arrangements between the Ekweremadus and the Royal Free Hospital. They initially paid a £10,000 start-up fee, the total required would be in excess of £80,000.

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The Ekweremadus were first arrested after detectives were made aware of their flight to London Heathrow on June 21 2022.

Specialist officers boarded the plan and arrested and removed the couple. They had approximately £30,000 in USD/Naira.

Obeta, who was described as the middle man, was arrested on July 12 at his home address in Southwark. He himself was an organ recipient in 2021. He played a pivotal role in this offence. He recruited the victim and had significant communication with him.

Joanne Jakymec, Chief Crown Prosecutor, said: “This was an horrific plot to exploit a vulnerable victim by trafficking him to the UK for the purpose of transplanting his kidney.

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“The defendants showed utter disregard for the victim’s welfare, health and well-being and used their considerable influence to a high degree of control throughout, with the victim having limited understanding of what was really going on here.”