Photo: Sen Ekweremadu and wife, Beatrice.
Breaking: Ex-Senate Dep. President Ekweremadu, jailed 10 years, wife, 5 years in UK for organ harvesting
A court in the United Kingdom on Friday sentenced Sen Ike Ekweremadu, a former Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, to nine years, eight months in prison, while his wife, Beatrice, was sentenced to four years, six months in prison for the crime of human organ harvesting plot.
Also jailed was a medical “middleman”, Dr. Obinna Obeta, who received a 10-year prison term for his conspiracy in the crime.
The trio were jailed for conspiring to traffic a young man, David Ukpo, from Nigeria to the UK to harvest his kidney for the purpose of transplanting it to replace the dysfunctional kidney of the Ekweremadus’ daughter, Sonia.
Sonia, 25, who was cleared of the same charge, wept in court, as her father, 60, and mother, 56, got the long sentences following their botched attempt to save her life.
The couple, along with medical “middleman” Dr Obeta, 50, were earlier found guilty and convicted in the Old Bailey in March but their sentences were reserved until May 5.
Delivering judgment on Friday, the trial judge, Justice Johnson, held that: “In each of your cases the offence you committed is so serious that neither a fine nor a community sentence can be justified.
“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.
“The risks had not been properly explained to the victim and there had been no consent “in any meaningful sense.”
It was alleged that the 21-year-old street trader was to be rewarded for donating the organ to Sonia Ekweremadu, in an £80,000 private procedure at London’s Royal Free Hospital.
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.
The prosecution claimed that the donor was offered up to £7,000 along with the promise of a better life in the UK.
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.
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 that the man was falsely presented as Sonia Ekweremadu’s cousin in a failed attempt to persuade medics to carry out the procedure at the Royal Free Hospital.
The Ekweremadus, who have an address in Willesden Green, Norrthwest London, and Dr 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.
During the trial earlier this year, prosecutor Joanne Jakymec had described the crime as a “horrific plot.”
According to the prosecutor, the defendants “showed utter disregard for the victim’s welfare, health and wellbeing.”
Additional reports from news agencies.