A former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, his wife, Beatrice and their personal doctor, have been found guilty of organ trafficking under the Modern Day slavery Act.
Ekweremadu, his wife, Beatrice, and Personal doctor, Dr Obinna Obeta, were found guilty of facilitating the travel of a 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London and criminally conspiring to exploit him for his kidney, a jury at the Old Baile found, after a six-week trial.
According to the prosecutor, Hugh Davies, Ekweremadus and Obeta had treated the man and other potential donors as “disposable assets; spare parts for reward”.
Davies told the court that the former deputy senate president, his wife and personal doctor entered an “emotionally cold commercial transaction” with the young man.
“The behaviour of Ekweremadu, a successful lawyer and founder of an anti-poverty charity who helped draw up Nigeria’s laws against organ trafficking, showed entitlement, dishonesty and hypocrisy”, Davies told the jury.
He said Ekweremadu, who owns several properties and had a staff of 80, “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”.
“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,” Davies added.”
Ekweremadu, however denied the charge, as he told the court he was the victim of a scam.
Dr. Obeta, who also denied the charge, claimed the man was not offered a reward for his kidney and was acting altruistically.
Beatrice also denied any knowledge of the alleged conspiracy.
Justice Jeremy Johnson, will pass sentence at a later date.
Persecondnews reports that under section two of the Modern Slavery Act (MSA), states that an individual commits an offense if they arrange or facilitate the travel of another with a view to that person being exploited, adding that It is irrelevant whether that person consents to the travel, or whether they are a child or an adult.
Section 3 of MSA listed one of the forms of exploitation to include “the removal of organs where a person is encouraged, required or expected to do anything which involves the commission of an offence under ss 32 or 33 of the Human Tissue Act 2004 (prohibition of commercial dealings in organs and restrictions on the use of live donors);” as well as securing services from children and vulnerable persons.
The Act further stated that anyone found guilty of the above-mentioned offenses “is liable on summary conviction to 12 months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.
It added that on conviction on indictment, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment.