A Nigerian senator, his wife, and a medical “middleman” were all sentenced to prison for planning to smuggle a market trader to the UK so they could remove his kidney.
Politician Ike Ekweremadu, 60, his wife Beatrice, 56, and their 25-year-old daughter Sonia were on trial for allegedly conspiring to smuggle the man from Lagos to Britain for an organ transplant.
The pair was found guilty in March at the Old Bailey together with medical “middleman” Dr. Obinna Obeta, 50.
Sonia, the severely kidney-impaired daughter of the Ekweremadus, sobbed when she was absolved of the same accusation.
At a sentencing hearing on Friday, Ekweremadu was jailed for nine years and eight months, his wife Beatrice was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment while Obeta received a 10-year prison term.
Mr Justice Johnson told the defendants: “In each of your cases the offence you committed is so serious that neither a fine nor a community sentence can be justified.”
The 21-year-old street vendor was allegedly to get payment for providing the organ to Sonia Ekweremadu during a $80,000 private treatment at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
In this case, defendants were found guilty for the first time of a conspiracy to harvest organs under the Modern Slavery Act.
While it is lawful to donate a kidney, it becomes criminal if money or another material advantage is rewarded.
The prosecution claimed 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.
The man allegedly tried in vain to convince medical staff at the Royal Free Hospital to do the treatment by posing as Sonia Ekweremadu’s cousin.
Legal constraints prevent identifying the contributor.
Ekweremadu, Wife, Doctor ‘Intended Harm’ To Donor
On the question of harm to the victim, the judge said: “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.”
He added that the risks had not been properly explained to the victim and there had been no consent “in any meaningful sense”.
Both Dr. Obeta from Southwark in south London and the Ekweremadus, who have addresses in Willesden Green in northwest London, have disputed the accusation leveled against them.
Weekly dialysis patient Sonia Ekweremadu declined to testify, however it was claimed on her behalf that she was unaware of any rewards given to donors.
Prosecutor Joanne Jakymec described the case as a “horrific plot” and claimed that the defendants “showed utter disregard for the victim’s welfare, health, and wellbeing” throughout the trial earlier this year.