The 60-year-old former deputy president of the Nigerian senate, his wife; 56, and the said doctor; Dr. Obinna Obeta; 51, are said to have conspired to facilitate the travel of a 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London, with the intent of exploiting him for his kidney.
The 3, through this, sought to get the young man whose name is withheld for legal reasons, to become a donor for the senator’s daughter who was sick, a report by UK’s portal; theguardian.com said.
The senator’s daughter; Sonia Ekweremadu reportedly had a kidney disease which forced her to drop out of Newcastle University where she was pursuing a master’s degree in film.
Breaking down the details of the incident, Prosecutor, Hugh Davies KC told the court that in February 2022, the man was sent to the Royal Free Hospital in London where he was falsely presented to a private renal unit as a cousin of Sonia (the Senator’s daughter) so that they could perform an 80,000 Euro transplant.
The medical secretary at the hospital was then paid to act as an Igbo translator between the parties (the man and the doctors) to help convince them that he was a selfless donor.
The prosecutor further told the court that Ekweremadu, his wife and the doctor, treated the said man and other potential donors as “disposable assets – spare parts for reward” and then entered an “emotionally cold commercial transaction” with him.
Prosecutor Davies further noted that the Senator who owns several properties and had a staff of 80, by this act, “agreed to reward someone for a kidney for his daughter – somebody in circumstances of poverty and from whom he distanced himself and made no inquiries, and with whom, for his own political protection, he wanted no direct contact”.
Davies added: “What he agreed to do was not simply expedient in the clinical interests of his daughter, Sonia, it was exploitation, it was criminal. It is no defence to say he acted out of love for his daughter.
Her clinical needs cannot come at the expense of the exploitation of somebody in poverty.”
His actions were against Nigeria’s laws against organ trafficking which he (Ekweremadu) helped draw up, the prosecutor maintained, adding that it sowed “entitlement, dishonesty, and hypocrisy,” the prosecutor told the jury.
After a six-week trial at the Old Bailey, on Thursday, March 23, the jury found them guilty of conspiring to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London for exploitation and for defying modern slavery legislation.
His daughter however was declared not guilty.
Background from mynigeria
It was gathered that medics at the London Royal Free Hospital rejected the man, saying he was not a suitable match for Sonia.
During a cross-examination, Ekweremadu was asked why he did not find a suitable match among his family members.
Ekweremadu responded saying it wasn’t an option for them.
Prosecutor Hugh Davies KC quizzed Ekweremadu why he failed to ask one of the specialists he consulted at the Royal Free if one of his family can donate kidney.
The former senator said he had limited intelligence, although the prosecuted described his response as false.
The judge asked Ekweremadu why he did not ask one of his daughter’s cousins to donate rather than risk a person he is unaware about.
He responded that he made an agreement through agents to recruit a donor who would donate a kidney to his daughter for a reward.
Ekweremadu also denied trying to transfer his daughter to from UK hospital to Turkey to seek medical care and under the transplant.
He told the court that he was the victim of a scam. His wife, Beatrice denied any knowledge of the alleged conspiracy.
However, WhatsApp messages showed to the court revealed that Obeta charged Ekweremadu 4.5m naira (about £8,000) made up of an “agent fee” and a “donor fee”.
Ekweremadu and Obeta admitted falsely claiming the man was Sonia’s cousin in his visa application and in documents presented to the hospital.
The judge, said Ekweremadu failed to hid to medical advice to find a donor for his daughter among genuine family members.
He said: “At no point in time was there ever any intention for a family member close, medium or distant to do what could be paid for from a pool of donors.”