A former Deputy Senate President of Nigeria, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice, have been found guilty of organ trafficking in the United Kingdom.
The duo alongside a medical doctor, Dr. Obinna Obeta, were found guilty of facilitating the travel of a young man to Britain with a view to his exploitation after a six-week trial at the Old Bailey.
However, the lawmaker’s daughter, Sonia, was cleared by the court.
The jury said Ekweremadu, his wife and their doctor criminally conspired to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney.
The judge, Justice Jeremy Johnson, will pass a sentence at a later date, The Guardian UK reports.
Ekweremadu, Beatrice, their daughter, Sonia, and Obeta had been standing trial at the Old Bailey for organ trafficking.
Their conviction on Thursday was the first verdict of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act.
Ekweremadu and his wife were last year arrested in the United Kingdom for allegedly trafficking a young man into the country to harvest his kidney.
The young man was said to have been falsely presented as Sonia’s cousin in a failed bid to persuade doctors to carry out an £80,000 private procedure at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
The young man was said to have been offered an illegal reward to become a donor for Sonia after kidney disease forced her to drop out of a master’s degree in film at Newcastle University.
The prosecutor, Hugh Davies KC, told the court the Ekweremadus and Obeta had treated the man and other potential donors as “disposable assets – spare parts for reward”.
He said they entered an “emotionally cold commercial transaction” with the man, The Guardian UK report added.
The behaviour of Ekweremadu showed “entitlement, dishonesty and hypocrisy”, Davies told the jury.
He said Ekweremadu “agreed to reward someone for a kidney for his daughter – somebody in circumstances of poverty and from whom he distanced himself and made no inquiries, and with whom, for his own political protection, he wanted no direct contact”.
Davies added, “What he agreed to do was not simply expedient in the clinical interests of his daughter, Sonia, it was exploitation, it was criminal. It is no defence to say he acted out of love for his daughter. Her clinical needs cannot come at the expense of the exploitation of somebody in poverty.”