Senator Ekweremadu trial on alleged organ harvesting say e break modern slavery law begin for UK

By Tom Symonds

BBC News

Former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu dey on trial on top charge of exploiting one 21-year-old to come to London and donate im kidney.

Ekweremadu, im wife Beatrice, dia daughter Sonia, wey be 25 years old, and one associate, Dr Obinna Obeta, wey be 50 years, allegedly break modern slavery laws.

Di Old Bailey hear di mata on Monday say Ekweremadu illegally pay one street trader from Lagos, to travel to UK for donation to help Sonia, wey dey suffer from kidney disease.

Di defendants deny di charges.

Opening di case, prosecutor Hugh Davies KC say Ekweremadu “status and influence don produce significant degree of wealth”.

Di family from Willesden Green, north-west London, get “international connections,” e tok.

E say Sonia Ekweremadu condition fit dey beta or cured by kidney transplant, and di family dey “close, open and loving”, wit a “direct interest in Sonia medical treatment.”

But, e tell di jury, to reward pesin for kidney donation dey illegal.

E say “obvious risk dey doz wey dey provide organs for transplantation for reward dey likely to come from di poorest and most vulnerable sections of society.”

Dem charge di defendants under modern slavery legislation wey make am offence to “arrange or facilitate di travel” of a pesin to di UK for exploitation.

Dis offence carry higher potential sentence of life, compare to maximum of three years for illegally making organ donation.

Dem recruit di alleged victim, wey dem no wan call im name for legal reasons, from di street markets of Lagos, di court hear, wia e get cart and dey sell mobile phone parts.

Ike Ekweremadu

Defendants Beatrice Ekweremadu (l) and Sonia Ekweremadu outside di Old Bailey.

E come from one remote village and no know im exact age, so e “adopt” one date of birth wey go make am around 22 now, dem tell jurors.

Di court hear say dem give am medical tests for Nigeria to assess im suitability as a donor bifor dem fly am to di UK.

Dem allegedly offer am di equivalent of £2,400 plus di promise say e fit could live and work for di UK.

“To am”, Oga Davies tok, “one street trader from Lagos, dis amount of money and rewards dey very important.”

Dem tell Jurors say di alleged donor no understand until im first appointment wit one consultant for di Royal Free Hospital wey e come know say e dey dia for kidney transplant.

Di consultant say di donor get “limited understanding” of wetin e come dia for and e dey “visibly relieved” wen dem tell am say di transplant no go fit happun, di court hear.

Davies tell di jury say no potential donor for fit do am without some form of reward.

E say dem take “elaborate steps to create di wholly false impression say [di alleged victim] and Sonia Ekweremadu na cousins.”

“None of dis for dey necessary if dis na straightforward, genuine, selfless kidney donation.dis no be am. na criminal.”

“For di real world, unselfish donors na very rare commodity.”

David tok say dem dey “often young, naturally economically disadvantaged young men.”

E say Ekweremadu and im associates begin search for donor among “economically vulnerable pipo” for Nigeria wit di right blood and genome types.

Dem dey invite candidates to di Nigerian capital Abuja for testing, di court hear.

Beatrice Ekweremadu, wife of Nigeria former deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu

Getty Images
Beatrice Ekweremadu, wife of Nigeria former deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu

One former organ donor wey di alleged victim bin know, recruit am from di street market and dem begin make plans to bring am to UK, including obtaining a passport, dem tell jurors.

Di potential donor for Sonia Ekweremadu believe say im dey undergo medical tests as part of visa application to go to London to work, di prosecution tok.

‘Weak relationship’

Jurors hear say Home Office for London give am visa for January 2022.

Afta Dr Obinna Obeta, wey be allegedly di Ekweremadu fixer for Nigeria tell am about dis, e tok say: “Wow! Thank you very much sir, I really appreciate you”, according to phone messages wey police obtain.

Di court also hear Sonia Ekweremadu begin to dey call di 21-year-old, to “get familiar” wit am before e fly to London for February.

As im arrive, di potential donor begin to meet doctors for di Royal Free hospital for Hampstead, north London, Davies tok.

One specialist, Dr Peter Dupont wey meet di alleged trafficking victim, become concerned about di donation.

E believe say di young man maturity, age and ethnicity make am dey at risk of long term complications if e donate one kidney, di jury hear.

Di man relationship wit di recipient dey “tenuous”, di doctor conclude.

‘Dem gatz to lie’

Oga Davies tok say di defendants’ conspiracy involve “detailed lies” wey claim say family relationship dey between Sonia Ekweremadu and di alleged victim.”

“One relatively distant family member wey dey act as if e dey selfless na one tin.

“Complete stranger from Lagos coming from position of economic disadvantage need to dey considered for wetin e be, dat na a donation for reward.”

“Den gatz lie, and do am.”

Dem tell di court say dem buy di donor clothes so dat dem go fit take fotos to create a false “backstory”.

Dem give am “drip feed of money”.

“Dem gatz to control am and im documents right up to di point wia di transplant take place. To protect dia investment,” Davies tok.

“Dem no pick am becos of im extraordinarily selfless care, dem pick am becos im na di physical and biological match.”

Davies say weda di donor agree to travel to UK for dat purpose no mata becos victims of trafficking no fit legally agree to dia own exploitation.

Di three Ekweremadus and Dr Obeta, from Southwark, deny conspiring to arrange or facilitate di travel of di young man wit a view to exploitation between 1 August 2021 and 5 May 2022.

Di trial go kontinu.