UK court convicts Nigeria politician and wife in organ trafficking case News
UK court convicts Nigeria politician and wife in organ trafficking case

A UK court Thursday convicted a senior Nigerian senator and his wife of organ trafficking. The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales found Ike Ekweremadu, former deputy president of the Nigerian senate, and his wife Nwanneka Ekweremadu guilty of exploitation following a six-week trial led by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Both Ike and Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu were found guilty of conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation. During the case, CPS presented testimony as to how the victim was deceived into being trafficked to the UK for the purpose of organ removal and transplantation. The victim was led to believe he was brought to the UK to earn money for his family.

The Human Tissue Authority, the body that regulates the donation of organs in the UK from live donors, welcomed the verdict. Detective Inspector Esther Richardson, lead investigating officer of the Metropolitan Police’s Modern Slavery and Child Exploitation team, described the conviction as “send[ing] out a clear message across the world [that] the UK will not tolerate the international industry in illegal organ removal.”

The prosecution is the first of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 in the UK. Section 3(4) of the act provides that a person is exploited if they are “encouraged, required or expected to do anything which involves the…commercial dealings in organs.” The act consolidated and simplified existing offenses involving modern slavery into a single piece of legislation. Previously, defendants were charged under section 33 of the Human Tissue Act 2004, which is restricted to transplants involving a live donor.

The judge is expected to sentence both Ike and Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu next month.