A Nigerian politician and former deputy president of the Nigerian senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has been sentenced to nine years and eight months in a UK prison for orchestrating an illegal scheme to extract a kidney for his daughter from a young man he had trafficked to London.
Ekweremadu, his wife, Beatrice, and Dr Obinna Obeta were all found guilty by an Old Bailey jury in March in the first organ trafficking conviction under the Modern Slavery Act.
The trio was discovered to have conspired to bring a 21-year-old Lagos street trader to a private renal unit at London’s Royal Free Hospital as a potential kidney donor for Ekweremadu’s daughter Sonia.
During his sentencing statement, Justice Jeremy Johnson declared that the three were all involved in a reprehensible business, stating that “the act of extracting human organs is a type of servitude. It reduces human beings and their physical forms to commodities that can be traded.”
Addressing Ekweremadu, he added, “you played a leading role in the offending. You did so in order to secure the material advantage, namely a human kidney for your daughter. I am sure that you were the driving force throughout.”
The former senator was also involved in bribing a medical secretary at the Royal Free, according to the judge, who ruled that Ekweremadu must serve two-thirds of his sentence in prison and the remainder under license.
Beatrice Ekweremadu was sentenced to four years and six months, with half to be spent in custody, while Obeta was sentenced to 10 years, with two-thirds to be served in prison.
In March 2022, a hospital rejected the kidney transplant attempted by the Ekweremadus, and it was later discovered that the family had been attempting to traffic individuals for organ transplants.
The victim, referred to as C, went to the police in May in fear of his life, believing he was being lined up for another transplant in Nigeria. The prosecutor stated that “kidney donation for reward is a substantial, internationally prohibited commercial industry that exploits economically vulnerable individuals.”
Ekweremadu played a significant role in the 2014 legislation that prohibited the activity he engaged in. The victim was being supported by Justice and Care, a charity that campaigns for the victims of modern slavery.