Ike Ekweremadu, the former Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, his wife, Beatrice, and a medical doctor, Obinna Obeta, are due to be sentenced today for their involvement in organ trafficking, a first under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act, News About Nigeria reports.
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.
They face a possible 10-year jail term for violating the Act.
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 have all written letters to the British authorities seeking leniency for Ekweremadu in recent days.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has also written to the authorities on behalf of the former lawmaker.
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.