On Friday, a court sitting in the United Kingdom sentenced former deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu to nine years and eight months for organ harvesting.
His wife, Beatrice was handed four years and six months in jail while their doctor, Obinna Obeta, was sentenced to ten years Imprisonment; his medical licence was also withdrawn.
The former deputy President of the Nigerian Senate was arrested by the London Metropolitan Police and was subsequently arraigned on organ harvesting and trafficking charges involving a young man, David Ukpo, whom he was said to pick up from the streets of Lagos State for that purpose.
But Ekweremadu and his wife had pleaded not guilty to the charges while Nigeria’s National Assembly pleaded for clemency.
But on Friday, Justice Jeremy Johnson held that the actions of the lawmaker was serious and amounted to a form of slavery because he was wealthy but leveraged on it to arrange the travel of a lad that could not travel from Lagos to Abuja.
In each of your cases, the offence you committed is so serious that neither a fine nor a community sentence can be justified.
“People-trafficking of human organs is a form of slavery.
“It treats human beings and their body
It is a trade that preys on poverty, misery and desperation, ” Justice Johnson said.
Speaking to Ekweremadu, his wife and doctor, the judge described them as accomplices.
The judged frowned on Ekweremadu’s doctor citing the prosecution’s evidence that he lied that the victim was the lawmaker’s daughter’s cousin.
You each played a part in that despicable trade.”
“People-trafficking across international borders for the harvesting of human organs is a form of slavery,” the judge said while sentencing them.
The development drew the reaction of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which is the principal public agency that conducts criminal prosecutions in England and Wales.
“This was an horrific plot to exploit a vulnerable victim by trafficking him to the UK for the purpose of transplanting his kidney.
The convicted defendants showed utter disregard for the victim’s welfare, health and well-being and used their considerable influence to a high degree of control throughout, with the victim having limited understanding of what was really going on here,”Chief Crown Prosecutor, Joanne Jakymec said.
From the UK Met’s Modern Slavery and Exploitation Command, it described the judgement as a “landmark conviction” and commended the donor for his bravery in speaking against the lawmaker.
“We could not have done this without the help of our colleagues in the CPS, Human Tissue Authority and other partners who have worked tirelessly to achieve this result.
“We do understand the challenges around modern slavery cases as no two investigations are the same. Specialist officers from the Met’s Modern Slavery and Exploitation team understand this and we will ensure victims are supported, signposted and safeguarded with the help of partners,” the Command said.