A former Deputy Senate President, his wife and a medical “middleman” have been found guilty of the first offence of human trafficking for organ harvesting after they brought a 21-year-old street trader to the UK from Lagos to provide a kidney for their sick daughter.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife Beatrice were found guilty of conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation – namely organ harvesting – Section 2 Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Also, Doctor Obinna Obeta, who acted as the medical middleman, was found guilty of the same offence, while Sonia Ekweremadu was cleared of the same charge.
The convicts have been remanded in custody ahead of sentencing on May 5, 2023.
Shocking Investigation Revelations
According to the Metropolitan Police, the victim was led to believe he was being brought to the UK to earn money for his family.
“On 20 February 2022, the victim was brought to the UK in the company of Isaac Onwudiwe Ekweremadu, and taken to Obeta’s flat in Southwark.
“On 24 February 2022, the victim attended his first medical screening at the Royal Free Hospital in London. The court heard how it became apparent to the doctor carrying out the screening that the victim had limited understanding of why he was there. After several appointments, the victim realised he was to donate a kidney. The consultant picked up the fear and panic this caused the victim. The hospital went on to decline to complete the procedure.
“The victim returned to the address in south London. He described the mood in the property had changed significantly and he was treated as a ‘slave’. A few days later he managed to escape the property, becoming homeless for around three days.
“On 5 May 2022, he walked into Staines Police Station and stated: “I don’t know anywhere, I don’t know where I am. I was sleeping three days outside around, for someone to help me, save my life.”
Police authorities further confirmed that detectives discovered Obeta’s mobile phone contained extensive involvement in this offence. He recruited the victim and had significant communication with him.
“They also discovered an application for a six-month Visa for the victim. The application stated: ‘Senator Ike Ekweremadu is sponsoring my medical treatment to enable me to donate an organ to Sonia Ekweremadu in Royal Free Hospital, London, UK.’
“It also stated: ‘I would be donating an organ to my closest cousin (Sonia) in appreciation for her sacrifices towards me, my family and community. I am willing to put my life on the line for her to live and continue her good service to humanity.’
“The Ekweremadus’ paid a health tourism company in the UK to facilitate the medical arrangements between the Ekweremadus’ and the Royal Free Hospital. They initially paid a £10,000 start-up fee, the total required would be in excess of £80,000.”
Leading investigating officer, Detective Inspector Esther Richardson, from the Met’s Modern Slavery and Child Exploitation team, said: “This conviction sends out a clear message across the world, the UK will not tolerate the international industry in illegal organ removal.
“We could not have achieved this conviction without the help of one man, the victim survivor. I commend him for his utmost bravery.”