Updated with sentence: Senior Nigerian politician jailed over illegal UK organ-harvesting plot
A senior Nigerian senator, his wife and a doctor have been imprisoned today (5 May 2023) for exploiting a vulnerable victim for illegal organ harvesting.
Ike Ekweremadu, 60, Beatrice Ekweremadu, 56 and Dr Obinna Obeta, 51, have been imprisoned for nine years and eight months, four years and six months, and 10 years respectively at the Old Bailey for conspiring to arrange the travel of a man for the purpose of harvesting his organs.
Their daughter, Sonia Ekweremadu, suffers from deteriorating kidneys and needs regular dialysis. Working together, the Metropolitan Police and CPS found evidence that her parents, Ike and Beatrice Ekeweremadu, conspired with Dr Obeta to identify individuals in Nigeria whose kidneys might be harvested for Sonia’s benefit.
The victim in this case was recruited in Lagos, Nigeria. At the time, he was selling telephone parts in public markets.
In February 2022, the victim was transported to London and was kept under the direction and financial control of the defendants. The conspirators’ plan was for the victim to provide a kidney to Sonia Ekweremadu in exchange for the suggested amount of either £2,400 or £7,000 (these two figures were uncovered in the investigation and prosecution case review) and the promise of work in the UK.
This case came to light when the victim entered Staines Police Station on 5 May 2022 reporting that he had been trafficked from Nigeria into the UK and that someone was trying to transplant his kidney. He stated that he had kidney screening at The Royal Free Hospital in London with a consultant. However, the consultant became suspicious about the circumstances surrounding the proposed transplant and decided the transplant could not go ahead.
The prosecution has been able to demonstrate that the conspirators took steps to create a false impression that the victim and Sonia Ekweremadu were cousins. This was necessary to justify the victim’s temporary visa to travel to the UK, and once here, the victim was coached to provide false answers to the Royal Free medical team.
Joanne Jakymec, Chief Crown Prosecutor, said: “This was an horrific plot to exploit a vulnerable victim by trafficking him to the UK for the purpose of transplanting his kidney.
“The convicted defendants showed utter disregard for the victim’s welfare, health and well-being and used their considerable influence to a high degree of control throughout, with the victim having limited understanding of what was really going on here.”
Detective Inspector Esther Richardson, from the Met’s Modern Slavery and Exploitation Command, said: “This is a landmark conviction and we commend the victim for his bravery in speaking against these offenders.
“We could not have done this without the help of our colleagues in the CPS, Human Tissue Authority and other partners who have worked tirelessly to achieve this result.
“We do understand the challenges around modern slavery cases as no two investigations are the same. Specialist officers from the Met’s Modern Slavery and Exploitation team understand this and we will ensure victims are supported, signposted and safeguarded with the help of partners.”
The CPS is committed to working closely with law enforcement partners to bring those who exploit vulnerable people for modern slavery purposes to justice.
Notes to editors
- Joanne Jakymec is the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Serious, Economic Organised Crime and International Division (SEOCID) of the Crown Prosecution Service
- Ike Ekweremadu from Willesden Green, London, (DOB: 12/05/1962) was found guilty of conspiracy to arrange the travel of another person with a view to exploitation and sentenced to nine years and eight months imprisonment at the Old Bailey
- Beatrice Ekweremadu from Willesden Green, London (DOB: 10/09/1966) was found guilty of conspiracy to arrange the travel of another person with a view to exploitation and sentenced to four years and six months at the Old Bailey
- Obinna Obeta from Southwark, London (DOB: 30/11/1971) was found guilty of conspiracy to arrange the travel of another person with a view to exploitation and sentenced to ten years imprisonment at the Old Baileynths at the Old Bailey
- Sonia Ekweremadu was found not guilty.