The Old Bailey will today hand a sentence to former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, his wife, Beatrice and a medical doctor, Obinna Obeta, following their conviction for organ trafficking in March.
This verdict will be a first of its kind within the UK criminal court system.
Under the Modern Slavery Act, the Ekweremadus and their doctor, are likely to get sentences ranging between 10 years to a life jail term.
The lawmaker, his wife has for weeks now been embroiled in a conspiracy to arrange the travel of a young Nigerian man who was identified as David Nwamini to Britain in order to exploit him for his kidney.
The organ was needed for Ekweremadu’s sick daughter, Sonia, who was initially accused of being a part to the crime, but was later cleared of the same charge after jurors deliberated for nearly 14 hours.
While Senator Ekweremadu and his wife denied the charges levelled against them, the Prosecutor, Hugh Davies told the jury that the behaviour of the Ekweremadus showed “entitlement, dishonesty and hypocrisy”.
On his part, Dr Obeta, also denied the charge, claiming that the victim in question was not offered a reward for his kidney and was acting altruistically.
There have been several please for clemency on behalf of the Ekweremadus, with many listing the achievements and contributions of the lawmaker to the growth of Nigeria and beyond, stating that he is a statesman of impeccable character who happens to have made a mistake.
Some have implored the UK government to temper justice with mercy, noting that the parliamentarian acted on the purview of parental instincts to save his daughter and not for commercial purposes.
They further admit that “mistakes have been made, and lessons learnt”.
A Landmark Conviction
While it is legal in Britain, to donate a kidney, its is a crime to do so for financial or material reward.
This is the first time organ harvesting conspiracy charges had been brought under the UK’s 2015 Modern Slavery Act.
The maximum sentence under the legislation is life imprisonment.
Detective Inspector Esther Richardson, from the Metropolitan Police’s Modern Slavery and Exploitation Command, called it a “landmark conviction” and thanked the victim for his “bravery” in coming forward.
During the weeks-long trial, the 21-year-old victim testified that the Ekweremadus had flown him to Britain to harvest his kidney.
According to the victim’s testimony, the kidney was intended for Sonia, who remains on dialysis with a renal condition, in return for up to £7,000 ($8,800).
The man said he had been recruited by a doctor working for the politician, and had thought he was coming to the UK to work.