A senior Nigerian politician and his wife were found guilty on Thursday of conspiring to transport a street vendor to Britain as part of a conspiracy to harvest organs.
Ike Ekweremadu, Nigerian Senate Vice-President and lawyer, and his wife Beatrice have been accused of letting a 21-year-old travel to the UK to use him for a kidney donation.
Prosecutors said the politician and his wife were behind the recruitment of the man from a Lagos street market and arranged for the victim to donate a kidney to their 25-year-old daughter Sonia for the sum of £80,000 (almost $100,000).
Prosecutors said the victim, who was transferred to London in February 2022, had been taken to the capital for work and he would be paid thousands of pounds under the agreement.
Kidney donation is legal in the UK, but it is a criminal offense to reward someone with money or any other material benefit for doing so.
As part of the ruse, the victim was described as Sonya’s cousin in his UK visa application, and the Ekweremadus pretended to doctors that the young man was close to Sonya.
However, a doctor at the Royal Free Hospital questioned the circumstances of the planned operation and ruled it could not go ahead. Prosecutors said Ekweremadu was trying to find more potential donors in Turkey.
The case was uncovered when the victim told British police that he had been smuggled out of Nigeria and that someone was trying to force him to partake in a kidney transplant.
Prosecutor Joanne Jacquemic called the case “appalling”.
“The convicted defendants showed utter disregard for the victim’s welfare, health, and well-being and used their considerable influence to a high degree of control throughout, with the victim having a limited understanding of what was really going on here,” she said in a statement.
Obinna Obita, whom prosecutors described as a “middle man” doctor in the conspiracy, was also convicted in London’s Central Criminal Court on Thursday.
The jury paid tribute to Sonia Ekweremadu, who suffers from a serious kidney problem. The defendants were ordered to remain in custody and sentencing was set for May 5.