Nigerian Senator and Wife Accused of Organ Harvesting Will Face Trial in UK

Nigerian Senator and Wife Accused of Organ Harvesting Will Face Trial in UK
The "Lady of Justice," a 12 foot high, gold leaf statue is pictured on top of the dome of the Central Criminal Court, commonly referred to as The Old Bailey in central London on Aug. 21, 2016. (Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images)
Chris Summers

A Nigerian senator and his wife who allegedly brought a young man into Britain so they could harvest one of his kidneys for their daughter will face trial at the Old Bailey in London.

Ike Ekweremadu, 60, and his wife Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55 were charged last month and at the time it was reported the organ donor was a child.

But on Thursday Westminster Magistrates Court was told the individual in question was 21, not 15. It is thought biodata has been supplied by the Nigerian authorities to clarify his age.

Ekweremadu is charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view of exploitation and his wife is charged with arranging or facilitating travel of another person with a view of exploitation.

The couple were not asked to enter pleas on Thursday but the court heard they have indicated they will deny the charges and say there was no criminal conspiracy involved.

The prosecution claim the young man refused to give his consent to have his kidney removed after undergoing tests at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, north London.

Couple Accused of Treating Organ Donor as a Slave

It is further claimed the couple treated him as a slave and that he escaped and reported them at a police station in Staines, not far from Heathrow Airport.

The couple was arrested at Heathrow on June 21 after arriving on a flight from Turkey.

On Thursday deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram remanded the pair in custody and said they would appear next on Aug. 4 at the Old Bailey for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

Ekweremadu served three terms as deputy president of the Senate in Nigeria, from 2007 to 2019.

He has been a senator since 2003 and is a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

He was recently made a visiting professor at the University of Lincoln.

The charges were made under modern slavery legislation which was introduced only last month.

Lawmakers in the UK also recently passed legislation aimed at stopping British people from participating—as organ recipients—in forced organ harvesting.

The amendment to the UK’s new Health and Care Bill will criminalise any UK resident who pays for the supply of an organ, seeks to find someone willing to supply an organ for payment, or initiates or negotiates any such commercial arrangement outside of the UK, according to Health Minister Edward Argar.

The amendment was pushed by backbenchers who made it clear it was primarily aimed at organ harvesting under the communist regime in China.

PA contributed to this report