Ike Ekweremadu, the former Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, his wife, Beatrice, and a medical doctor, Obinna Obeta have been sentenced to jail, News About Nigeria reports.
The sentencing happened on Friday at the Central Criminal Court, UK.
Ike Ekweremadu, who was considered the driving force behind the scheme, received a sentence of nine years and eight months in prison.
Dr. Obeta was sentenced to 10 years in prison for targeting a young, poor, and vulnerable man to carry out the crime, while Beatrice Ekweremadu was sentenced to four years and six months for her limited involvement in the scheme.
The trio was found guilty in March of conspiring to arrange the travel of a young man to the UK for the purpose of exploiting him for his kidney, which was needed for Ekweremadu’s sick daughter, Sonia.
During the six-week trial at the Old Bailey, the prosecutor argued that the defendants treated the potential organ donor as a “disposable asset” and entered into an “emotionally cold commercial transaction” with him.
Ekweremadu’s behaviour was characterised as “entitlement, dishonesty and hypocrisy”, while the prosecutor argued that he had “agreed to reward someone for a kidney for his daughter – somebody in circumstances of poverty and from whom he distanced himself and made no inquiries, and with whom, for his own political protection, he wanted no direct contact”.
Ekweremadu, who denied the charge, claimed to have been the victim of a scam.
Obeta also denied the charge and said the man was acting altruistically.
Beatrice said she knew nothing about it.
The Nigerian Senate, the House of Representatives and the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission had written letters to the British authorities seeking leniency for Ekweremadu.
The case represents the first time that the UK’s Modern Slavery Act has been used to convict individuals for organ trafficking.
The Act, which came into force in 2015, provides for a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for those found guilty of trafficking for the purpose of organ removal.
The judge presiding over the case, Mr. Justice Johnson, acknowledged Ike Ekweremadu’s “substantial fall from grace” during the televised sentence hearing.
He described the politician as a man of high office with multiple properties, domestic staff, maids, chefs, and drivers compared to the victim who could not even afford a £25 ticket to travel to Abuja.
The victim, a 21-year-old Nigerian market trader, said in a statement that he used to pray every day to work or study in the UK.
He agreed to undergo medical tests and meet with doctors in London, believing they were required for his UK visa during the Covid pandemic.
However, he realized what was happening when he met doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in London who began discussing a kidney transplant.
He stated that he would never have agreed to the transplant, saying, “My body is not for sale.”