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A Nigerian senator and his wife have appeared in court today accused of plotting to traffic a homeless child into the UK in order to harvest his organs.
Ike Ekweremadu, a People’s Democratic Party politician for 19 years who was once Deputy President of the nation’s senate, and Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu are accused of trying to traffic the 15-year-old to the UK from Lagos.
The court heard that the couple, who have four children and a home in Willesden, north London, were hoping to transplant the boy’s organs into their daughter who is suffering from kidney failure.
Police were alerted to possible offenses under modern slavery laws last month.
The couple were arrested two days ago at Heathrow airport as they tried to board a plane to Turkey, where it was suggested the procedure could take place, the court heard.
Ekweremadu, 60, is said to have had £20,000 at the time of her arrest, according to prosecutors.
The boy is now in the care of protection authorities and the Metropolitan Police, authorities say.
Ekweremadu and accountant wife Beatrice, 55, are charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate someone else’s journey for the purpose of exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
The senator wore a gray sweater while his wife wore a black and white knitted cardigan at Uxbridge Magistrates Court today.
Prosecutor Damla Ayas said:
Prosecutor Damla Ayas said: ‘It is conspiracy in relation to human trafficking offenses for the purposes of organ harvesting. The victim in this case is 15 years old
‘They the couple were interviewed at the police station. Both of the defendants have provided a prepared statement.
‘Mr Ekweremadu in his prepared statement denied allegations of human trafficking.
‘He said at no stage has he arranged transport for anyone with intention to exploit them.’
His wife similarly denied the allegations in her prepared statement, the court heard.
Gavin Irwin, representing Ekweremadu, said: ‘There is no question this is a serious allegation. Mr Ekweremadu is a member of the Senate in Nigeria.
‘He has previously held an even more senior role as deputy president of the senate.
‘He is a member of the bar in Nigeria. He is a principal in a law firm that bears his name.
‘Those issues taken together go way beyond him being a person of good character…rather that he has led a blameless life as a public servant.’
Mr Irwin added that the allegations were ‘nothing short of preposterous’.
The investigation was launched by the Met’s crime team after detectives were alerted to possible crimes under modern slavery legislation in May 2022.
The Met Police have confirmed that the boy is safe and is being treated. Ekweremadu was detained with Nwanneka Ekweremadu in Britain this month.
Ekweremadu has been an elected senator in the Abuja-based parliament since 2003 after moving into politics after years as a lawyer.
His wife, five years his junior, is an academic and medical doctor and also a prominent public figure in Nigeria. They are believed to have four adult children.
The Metropolitan Police have said the boy, under 18, at the center of the alleged plot is in care.
Organ harvesting is the removal of body parts, often for cash and against the will of the victim.
Ekweremadu has been in the UK for at least the last two weeks and met with members of the Nigerian community in Britain in Lincoln about ten days ago.
He tweeted: ‘It was a pleasure and honor to receive a letter of appointment from the University of Lincoln, UK, as Visiting Professor of Corporate and International Links. I also received a very precious gift: a copy of the Magna Carta. It was created in 1215, about 807 years ago’.
The investigation was launched after detectives were alerted to possible offenses under modern slavery legislation in May 2022, the force said.
Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55, and Ike Ekweremadu, 60, both from Nigeria, have been remanded in custody and will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates Court later today.
In 2017, a former Nigerian government minister claimed that immigrants from his country were having their organs harvested after being sold into slavery.
Femi Fani-Kayode, a former aviation minister in Nigeria, claimed that 75 percent of the slaves who have their organs harvested in North Africa are from her country.
The Cambridge University-educated lawyer added that the victims have their “bodies mutilated” and are “roasted like yours [shish kebabs]”. He continued: ‘Roasted alive! This is what Libyans do with sub-Saharan Africans seeking a transit point to Europe.
They are sold into slavery and killed, maimed, tortured, or worked to death.