Old Bailey court convicts Ekwerwmadu, wife of organ harvesting
To receive sentence on May 5
Former Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice were on Thursday found guilty by an Old Bailey Court in London, of plotting to exploit a Lagos street trader by bringing him to the United Kingdom and harvesting his kidney for his unwell daughter.
Senator Ekweremadu, 60, his wife Beatrice, 56, and medical “middleman” Dr Obinna Obeta, 50, were found guilty of conspiring to exploit a young man from Lagos for his body part. The Ekweremadus’ daughter Sonia, 25, wept as she was cleared of the same charge on Thursday. Following the guilty verdicts, Mr Justice Johnson remanded the defendants into custody to be sentenced on 5 May.
The victim, a 21-year-old street trader from Lagos, was brought to the UK last year to provide a kidney to Sonia in an £80,000 private transplant at the Royal Free Hospital in London. He was promised £7000 for his kidney. It was however discovered by the doctor that his kidney did not match that of Sonia. He was thereafter abandoned, and walked around for three days before walking into Staines police station in Surrey. The original donor told police that he did not understand why he had been brought to the UK until he meet Dr Dupont.
Relaying his fears, he told police: “The doctor said I was too young but the man said if you do not do it here he would carry me back to Nigeria and do it there.”
“I was sleeping three days outside around, looking for someone to help me, save my life.”
The Ekweremadus, who have an address in Willesden Green, north-west London, and Dr Obeta, from Southwark, south London, however denied the charges against them.
The Ekweremadus set about finding a donor, enlisting the help of Dr Obeta, a former medical school classmate of Ike’s brother Isaac “Diwe” Ekweremadu, who remains in Nigeria.
In opening addresses at the Old Bailey in February, lawyers for the defendants insisted they believed the donor, who cannot be identified, was acting “altruistically”.
Martin Hicks KC, for Ike Ekweremadu, told jurors: “Be alive please to the possible cultural differences between this country and that of Nigeria, particularly to altruistic donation.”
He said: “We say the issue in this case is simple – did there exist an agreement to exploit (the donor) in the way the prosecution allege and if so who was a party to it?”
The politician’s case is that Dr Obeta had spoken to Ekweremadu’s medically trained brother Diwe in the autumn of 2021 and had offered to help find Sonia a prospective donor.
Mr Hicks said Ekweremadu’s only communication was through his brother Diwe and he relied on the “medical knowledge and standing” of the doctors involved.
He denied lying in support of the donor’s visa application to travel to the UK and was not privy to an online application which claimed the young man was related to Sonia. Mr Hicks said Ekweremadu did not attend any visits to the Royal Free Hospital in February and March last year, which concluded that the donor was unsuitable.
The court heard that the 21-year-old donor was recruited at a Lagos street market. At the time, he was making just a few pounds a day selling telephone parts from a cart.
Mr Davies said that the young man’s account was that he believed he was being taken to London to work and the tests were for a visa.
The prosecutor said Dr Obeta was controlling the process in Nigeria and regularly updating Diwe Ekweremadu, who was, in turn, updating his family.
Meanwhile, Sonia had remained reliant on weekly dialysis. She declined to give evidence but it was said on her behalf she knew nothing of a reward offered to donors. She tearfully hugged her father as he was sent down from the dock.
Dear readers, we really need your support to keep on serving you with authoritative, truthful, and juicy stories everyday. For your support, please reach out to the editor @firstname.lastname@example.org