On Monday, the Old Bailey in the UK delivered the first-ever conviction of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act, finding former Nigerian Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, his wife, daughter, and a doctor guilty of organ trafficking.The six-week trial found the quartet guilty of criminal conspiracy to exploit a 21-year-old Lagos street trader for his kidney, and for facilitating his travel to the UK for that purpose. The man, whose name cannot be disclosed for legal reasons, had been offered an illegal reward to become a donor for the senator’s daughter after she was forced to drop out of her master’s degree program in film at Newcastle University due to kidney disease.
The trial also revealed that in February 2022, the man was falsely presented to a private renal unit at the Royal Free hospital in London as Sonia’s cousin in a failed attempt to persuade doctors to carry out an £80,000 transplant. A medical secretary at the hospital also acted as an Igbo translator between the man and the doctors for a fee.
The prosecutor, Hugh Davies KC, argued that the Ekweremadus and their accomplice treated the man and other potential donors as “disposable assets – spare parts for reward.” He further noted that the former Nigerian deputy senate president, who helped draft the country’s laws against organ trafficking, acted with “entitlement, dishonesty, and hypocrisy,” while showing no concern for the poverty-stricken donor’s welfare.WhatsApp messages presented to the court revealed that the senator paid the doctor 4.5m naira (about £8,000) for his services, and also admitted falsely claiming the man was Sonia’s cousin in his visa application and in documents presented to the hospital.
The judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson, will deliver the sentence at a later date.