When Daniel traveled from Nigeria to the U.K. at 21 years old, the terrifying notion of being forced to undergo surgery to remove his kidney and falling victim to organ trafficking couldn’t have been further from what he was expecting.
Formerly a street vendor in Nigeria, Daniel was targeted to be the victim of an organ trafficking plan orchestrated by Ike Ekweremadu, a multi-millionaire and one of Nigeria’s most prominent politicians. His wife Beatrice and a middleman, Dr. Obinna Obeta were also involved in the plan and all three have been found guilty in the U.K.’s first prosecution for human trafficking for organ removal.
They now face prison sentences of nine years and eight months, four and a half years, and 10 years respectively. But Daniel still fears for his safety.
Trafficked for his kidney
Daniel was lured by Ekweremadu to the U.K. under the impression that he would be offered a “life-changing” job and new opportunities. Instead, Ekweremadu intended for Daniel to undergo surgery to remove his kidney as Ekweremadu’s daughter, Sonia, was in need of a kidney transplant.
While still in Nigeria, Daniel underwent a blood test but did not suspect anything, assuming that this was a necessity related to acquiring a U.K. visa. The test was in fact carried out to check the health of his kidney.
Once in London, Daniel began to sense something was wrong. He had various meetings with medical professionals in London’s Royal Free Hospital who also suspected that Daniel had not been informed about the surgery. The medical professionals halted the process and Daniel returned to the flat where he was staying with his traffickers.
One night, Daniel decided to flee and contact the police after he overheard his traffickers discussing taking him back to Nigeria to remove his kidney there.
Mark Lobel, Kate West, and Melanie Stewart-Smith at BBC News report:
Daniel was not free of his traffickers though. Back in the flat he was staying in, two men came to examine him. It was then he overheard a conversation about sending him back to Nigeria to remove his kidney there.
He fled, and after two nights sleeping rough, he walked into a police station near Heathrow, triggering an investigation that would lead to the UK’s first prosecution for human trafficking for organ removal.
Journalists reporting on this case met with Daniel’s brother in Nigeria. He hasn’t seen Daniel since he was trafficked to the U.K. in February 2022.
“We’ve been crying every day and my father has grieved so much he’s become very sick,” he says. “Daniel was deceived and carried away.”
Daniel remains in the U.K. under police protection. He says he still feels at risk and is terrified of returning to Nigeria where Ekweremadu’s powerful political allies may seek retribution.
Forced organ harvesting and organ trafficking are interlinked crimes where organs are taken from victims through coercion or without informed consent and sold illegally, often making their way into the organ tourism transplant market.
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