A Nigerian senator, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife Beatrice are on trial in the U.K. on the grounds of exploiting a 21 year old to travel to London and donate a kidney.
Charged under modern slavery legislation
In the U.K., rewarding someone someone for donating an organ is illegal. Under modern slavery legislation it is also an offense to “arrange or facilitate the travel of”, in this case a person to the UK for exploitation.
Opening the case, prosecutor Hugh Davies KC said Mr Ekweremadu’s “status and influence had produced a significant degree of wealth”.
The family from Willesden Green, north-west London, had “international connections,” he said. Sonia Ekweremadu’s condition, he said, could have been alleviated or cured by a kidney transplant, and the family was “close, open and loving”, with a “direct interest in Sonia’s medical treatment.” The latter charge, can see the senator serve a life sentence, a far greater sentence than the 3 years maximum for illegal organ donation.
The target, a young man believed to now be around 22 years of age was recruited from a market in Lagos. He was offered a sum that totals up near £2,400 and promised he could live and work in the UK.
“To him”, Mr Davies said, “a street trader from Lagos, these sums and rewards were significant.”
All was not in plain view, reports suggest that the “donor” was not in full understanding of the nature of the exchange. He was also not in a healthy condition to donate.
A specialist, Dr Peter Dupont who met the alleged trafficking victim, became concerned about the donation.
He believed the young man’s maturity, age and ethnicity put him at risk of long term complications should he donate a kidney, the jury heard.
The victim was allegedly told lies, and drip fed money to keep him dependent on the people he thought were helping him. Meanwhile, the Ekweremadu family, and their associate Dr. Obeta, refuse any conspiracy to exploit an impoverished foreigner.
A conclusion has not been reached on the matter. The trial continues.