Former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, his wife, and a doctor have been convicted of organ trafficking, in the first verdict of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act.
Ekweremadu, 60, a former deputy president of the Nigerian senate, his wife, Beatrice, 56, daughter Sonia 25, and Dr Obinna Obeta, 51, were found guilty of facilitating the travel of a young man, (David Nwamini (Ukpo) to Britain with a view to his exploitation after a six-week trial at the Old Bailey.
They were said to have criminally conspired to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney, the jury found.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been offered an illegal reward to become a donor for the senator’s daughter after kidney disease forced her to drop out of a master’s degree in film at Newcastle University, the court heard.
The UK Guardian reports that the judge, Justice Jeremy Johnson, will pass a sentence at a later date on May 5, 2023.
BBC reports that the Old Bailey heard the organ was for the couple’s daughter.
She was cleared of the same charge.
The victim, a street trader from Lagos, was brought to the UK last year to provide a kidney in an £80,000 private transplant at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
The prosecution said he was offered up to £7,000 and promised opportunities in the UK for helping, and that he only realised what was going on when he met doctors at the hospital.
It was alleged the defendants had tried to convince medics at the Royal Free by pretending he was the cousin of Sonia, who has a debilitating illness, when they were not related.
While it is lawful to donate a kidney, it becomes criminal if there is a reward of money or other material advantage.
When he was rejected as unsuitable, the court heard the Ekweremadus transferred their interest to Turkey and set about finding another donor.
An investigation was launched after the young man ran away from London and slept rough for days before walking into a police station in Staines, in Surrey, crying and in distress.
The Ekweremadus, who have an address in Willesden Green, north-west London, and Dr Obeta, from Southwark, south London, denied the charge against them.
It is the first time that defendants have been convicted under the Modern Slavery Act of an organ-trafficking conspiracy.