A United Kingdom court has sentenced former Deputy Senate President of Nigeria, Ike Ekweremadu, to a total of nine years and eight months imprisonment and his wife, Beatrice, to four years and six months imprisonment for plotting to harvest a man’s kidney.
The third accomplice, a medical doctor, Dr. Obinna Obeta, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. The three were found guilty at the Old Bailey of conspiring to arrange the travel of the victim, a young man, to exploit him for his body parts.
The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, claimed he was lured to the United Kingdom under the pretense of job opportunity in the country. In his impact statement, which was read in court on Friday, the victim revealed his humble background in a Lagos village, where he is the oldest of seven siblings living in a home without electricity or running water.
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He was forced to become a street trader full-time and moved to the city to provide for his family when his father fell ill with a heart problem. He sold mobile phone accessories from a wheelbarrow making at most £7 a day and as little as 50p.
The victim said he was approached with an opportunity to work in the UK, something he had “always dreamed of but never thought would happen.” However, he was shocked to discover the reason for the trip was to harvest his organs to give to Ekweremadu’s daughter, Sonia.
The victim claimed he is “not for sale” and that he was tricked into coming to the UK for the illegal organ harvesting operation. The victim’s statement was read in court on Friday during the sentencing hearing of the three defendants.
Justice Toney, the judge in the case, said the defendants showed a “total lack of empathy” towards the victim and that their actions were motivated solely by financial gain. Justice Toney also noted that the victim’s “horrific ordeal” had left him with significant physical and emotional scars. The judge sentenced Ekweremadu, his wife, and Obeta to a total of 23 years and two months in prison.
Ekweremadu’s lawyers have said they plan to appeal the verdict and that their client maintains his innocence. In a statement released after the sentencing, Ekweremadu’s legal team said they were “deeply disappointed” with the verdict and that they would “continue to fight to clear our client’s name.” The statement also noted that Ekweremadu is a “long-standing advocate for human rights” and that he would “never engage in such a heinous crime.”
“He [Dr. Obinna Obeta] did not tell me he brought me here for this reason; he did not tell me anything about this. I would not have agreed to any of this; my body is not for sale,” the victim said.
Expressed concern for his safety, the victim stated that he cannot return to Nigeria due to the fear of reprisal. According to him, someone had even visited his father in Nigeria, asking him to persuade the victim to drop the case.
He explained, “I worry about my safety in Nigeria, as those people can go to any extent. I believe they could apprehend or even kill me in Nigeria.”
The victim also informed the police that he was not interested in pursuing compensation from the culprits as he believed it would bring bad luck and misfortune upon him.