Former Deputy Senste President Ike Ekweremadu, his wife, Beatrice, and United Kingdom-based Dr. Obinna Obeta were godsy, Friday, May 5, 2023, found guilty of an organ harvesting plot, with the court sentencing them to prison for conspiring to traffic someone from Nigeria to the UK to remove his kidney.
Ekweremadu, 60, his wife Beatrice, 56, and Obeta, the medical “middleman” in the conspiracy, were sentenced for bringing David Nwamini to the UK from Lagos to donate an organ for their 25-year-old daughter Sonia Ekweremadu, who has kidney failure and requires transplant.
They were arrested last year and found guilty in the Old Bailey in March.
However, Sonia Ekweremadu was cleared of the charge.
At the sentencing on Friday, Ekweremadu was jailed for nine years and eight months, Beatrice was sentenced to four years and six months in prison and Obeta got 10 years imprisonment.
Presiding, Mr Justice Johnson said: “In each of your cases, the offence you committed is so serious that neither a fine nor a community sentence can be justified.”
It was alleged Nwamini was to be rewarded for donating the organ in an £80,000 private arrangement at London’s Royal Free Hospital.
The prosecution claimed the donor, was offered up to £7,000 along with the promise of a better life in the UK. It added that the donor did not understand until his first appointment with a consultant at the hospital that he was there for a kidney transplant, the Old Bailey was told.
The lawyers said, according to the consultant, he had a “limited understanding” of why he was there and was “visibly relieved” at being told the operation would not go ahead.
It was claimed the man was falsely presented as Sonia Ekweremadu’s cousin in an attempt to persuade medics to carry out the procedure at the Royal Free Hospital.
Judge Johnson said: “The transplant did not go ahead but each intended that it should go ahead and you each intended the harm to the donor that would result.
“He would have faced spending the rest of his life with only one kidney and without the requisite funding for the required aftercare.”
He added that the risks had not been properly explained to the victim and there had been no consent “in any meaningful sense”.
The Ekweremadus, who have an address in Willesden Green, northwest London, and Obeta, from Southwark, south London, had denied the charge against them.
Sonia Ekweremadu, who takes dialysis weekly, declined to give evidence but it was said on her behalf she knew nothing of a reward offered to donors.
The case marked the first time defendants have been convicted under the Modern Slavery Act of an organ harvesting conspiracy.
While it is lawful to donate a kidney, it becomes criminal if money or another material advantage is rewarded.
Ekweremadu’s sentencing comes after months of controversy and intrigues surrounding his arrest and trial, the donor’s status as a minor or unwilling donor and allegations of the UK court’s determination to make a scapegoat out of the politician and lawyer.
There were questions about the donor’s identity, age, origins and claims of being trafficked to London to have his kidney harvested. The former senator and his co-accused got into trouble when Nwamini surrendered to the police and divulged all the details, seeking state protection.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerian senators and others had urged the UK court to temper justice with mercy.
It is uncertain if Ekweremadu will appeal today’s ruling.