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Powerful Nigerian politician faces trial over organ-harvesting plot

A senior Nigerian politician plotted to take a poor street vendor to England and promise him a better life, up to £7,000, in exchange for a kidney for his daughter, a court heard. .

Sixty-year-old Ike Ekweremadu allegedly conspired with his family and others to try to exploit a 21-year-old man to have his body parts taken.

The then vice president of the Nigerian Senate is on trial Old Bailey Together with his wife Beatrice Ekweremadu, 56, daughter Sonia, 25, and medical “intermediary” Dr. Obinna Obeta.

Sonia Ekwelemadu is alleged to have been the recipient of the kidney of a victim in a £80,000 private transplant operation at the Royal Free Hospital. HampsteadNorth London.

As part of the alleged conspiracy, it is alleged that “sophisticated” steps were taken to create the false impression that Sonia and her proposed donor were cousins.

His status and influence generated considerable wealth.they had international connections

Hugh Davis KC, Prosecutor

Hugh Davies KC, who opened Old Bailey’s trial on Monday, said Ike Ekwemadu and his wife are powerful figures in Nigerian society.

But their status, influence, wealth and international connections all could not guarantee the family’s health, the jury said.

Sonia had a “significant and deteriorating” kidney condition that could be managed with dialysis, but was cured with a transplant.

The jury said it was legal for someone to donate a kidney, but it was a crime to reward someone to do so.

Ekweremadus is said to have set out to find a donor with the help of Dr. Obeta, a former medical school classmate of Ike’s brother Isaac “Diwe” Ekweremadu, who remains in Nigeria.

In 2021, Dr. Obeta himself had a kidney transplant in the UK, claiming the donor who came over from Nigeria was his cousin, jurors said.

In the real world, altruistic donors are a very rare commodity. Those who willingly donate their organs for reward are not. They are often young and essentially economically disadvantaged young men.

Dr. Obeta go fund me The page quotes £60,000 for private surgery, claimed to be around £20,000 less than the cost of Sonia’s transplant.

On September 8, 2021, Diwe Ekweremadu reportedly told Ike that he would give a brief explanation after an “extensive discussion” with “a classmate who had a transplant last month.”

He went on to say that classmates would need around £2,000 to start searching and testing candidates.

The following month, a message between Diwe Ekweremadu and Dr Obeta (forwarded to Ike) revealed that potential donors would travel for screening at a laboratory in the capital Abuja.

A 21-year-old donor was among them. Lagos The court said he turned out to be Dr. Obeta’s kidney donor.

At the time, he was making just a few pounds a day selling phone parts from carts.

Davis said the young man’s account said he believed he was being taken to London for work and that the tests were for a visa.

Prosecutors said Dr Obeta was controlling the process in Nigeria and was regularly renewing Diwe Ekwemadu, who was renewing his family.

Davis told jurors that the message only referred to the unnamed donor as “this man” and made no mention of an act of “extraordinary selfless altruism.”

He added: Often they are young and essentially economically disadvantaged young men. ”

Under the agreement, the young men were to be paid either £2,400 or £7,000 in Nigerian naira, plus a promise of a job and the opportunity to be in the UK, prosecutors argued.

However, Davis told jurors:

“These sums and rewards were significant to him as a Lagos street vendor.”

These sums and rewards were significant to him, a Lagos street vendor.

Hugh Davis KC, Prosecutor

Davis said other potential donors in Nigeria were vetted for suitability before he was identified.

And when no organ transplant was performed in London, steps were taken to arrange a transplant operation in Turkey with another donor.

Once Street Trader proved to be a suitable match, he was transferred to London in February 2022 under the “instruction and financial control” of the alleged conspirators, Davis said.

As part of the deception, the young man was Sonia’s cousin and family connections were used to obtain a temporary visa for travel to the UK.

A photo of Sonia and Donner was taken together and they exchanged text messages as part of the ruse, jurors said.

The donor was instructed by doctors at the Royal Free Hospital to give false answers, and Sonia was “singing from the same hymn sheet” to create a fake family history, Davis said.

The jury was told how the donor had been escorted to the UK by Diwe Ekwemadu and stayed with Oveta in London.

The initial meeting with the consultant at the hospital was postponed due to the donor’s limited English.

A longtime Igbo-speaking staff member of the Royal Free Hospital has offered to act as an interpreter at the rescheduled meeting on 24 February.

Davis told jurors: ”

After speaking with the young man, the consultant concluded that he was not a suitable donor.

Jurors were said not to have realized until his first appointment that he was there for a kidney transplant.

He had been told by a consultant that he had a “limited understanding” of what he was there for and had expressed his intention to study for the GCSE.

He was noted to be “visibly relieved” when he was told the transplant would not go ahead.

“Prosecutors allege that (the donor) was consistently under a high degree of control and relied on what was said to gain understanding,” Davis said.

A jury was told that Sonia Ekweremadu had not had a kidney transplant and was on dialysis.

Three Ekweremadus, from Willesden Green, north west London, and Obata, 50, from Southwark, are traveling young people for exploitation purposes between 1 August 2021 and 5 May 2022. Denies any collusion to arrange or facilitate

The Old Bailey trial continues.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/old-bailey-london-hampstead-lagos-gofundme-b2276832.html Powerful Nigerian politician faces trial over organ-harvesting plot

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