Nigerian senate and his wife ‘plotted to traffic homeless boy, 15, to the UK and harvest his organs’
A Nigerian senator and his wife have appeared in court today on charges of conspiracy to smuggle a homeless child into the UK to harvest his organs.
Ike Ekweremadu, a 19-year People’s Democratic Party politician and once Vice-Chairman of the country’s Senate, and Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu are accused of smuggling the 15-year-old into the UK from Lagos.
The court heard that the couple, who have four children and a home in Willesden, north London, hoped to transplant the boy’s organs to their daughter who is suffering from kidney failure.
police were Warned last month about possible violations under modern slavery laws and arrested the couple two days ago at Heathrow Airport when they tried to board a plane bound for Turkey, the court heard.
Ekweremadu, 60, was said to be in possession of £20,000 at the time of his arrest, according to prosecutors.
The child is now under the care of security authorities and the Metropolitan Police, officials say.
Ekweremadu and accountant wife Beatrice, 55, are charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of another person for the purpose of exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
The senator wore a gray sweater today while his wife wore a black and white knit cardigan at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court.
Ike Ekweremadu, 60, a politician from Nigeria’s People’s Democratic Party, and his wife Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55, have been detained on suspicion of conspiracy to harvest the organs of a child in the UK
Ekweremadu has been in the UK for at least the past two weeks, meeting members of the Nigerian community in Britain in Lincoln (pictured right) and receiving a copy of the Magna Carta.
Prosecutor Damla Ayas said: ‘It is conspiracy related to human trafficking offenses for the purpose of organ harvesting. The victim in this case is 15 years old
The couple has been questioned at the police station. Both suspects have made prepared statements.
“Mr Ekweremadu denied allegations of human trafficking in his prepared statement.
“He said he never arranged transportation for anyone with the intent to exploit them.”
His wife similarly denied the charges in her prepared statement, the court heard.
Gavin Irwin, representative of Ekweremadu, said: “There is no doubt that this is a serious allegation. Mr Ekweremadu is a member of the Senate in Nigeria.
He previously held an even senior role as Senate Vice President.
‘He is a member of the bar in Nigeria. He is the director of a law firm that bears his name.
“All these things taken together go far beyond his being a person of good character…rather, having lived an impeccable life as a civil servant.”
Mr Irwin added that the allegations were “downright ridiculous”.
Antonia Gray, on behalf of Ms Ekweremadu, said: ‘She has never been complicit in or involved in any alleged illegal trafficking of young people.
“She’s a financial accountant…with an impeccable track record.”
The couple has an address where they can stay in Willesden, in north-west London, the court heard.
The public prosecutor has filed a request for a 14-day suspension.
Ms Ayas said: ‘These offenses require the approval of the Attorney General and the Crown needs 14 days to obtain it.’
Magistrate Lois Sheard said: ‘These are serious allegations and these cases have now been adjourned until 7 July here in Uxbridge.’
Ms Sheard has taken both suspects into custody ahead of their hearing next month.
The Ekweremadus are charged with “conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of another person for the purpose of exploitation … between August 1, 2021 and May 5, 2022 within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court.”
Ekweremadu has been elected senator to the parliament of Abuja since 2003, after entering politics after years as a lawyer
The investigation was launched by the Met’s Specialist Crime team after detectives were warned of possible violations under modern slavery law in May 2022.
The Met Police have confirmed that the boy is safe and being cared for. Mr Ekweremadu was detained with Nwanneka Ekweremadu in Britain this month.
Mr Ekweremadu has been an elected senator in parliament in Abuja since 2003, after entering politics after years as a lawyer.
His wife, five years his junior, is an academic and doctor and also an important public figure in Nigeria. They would have four grown children.
The Metropolitan Police has said the child, who is under 18, is at the center of the alleged plot.
Organ harvesting involves removing body parts, often for cash and against the will of the victim.
Ekweremadu has been in the UK for at least the past two weeks and met members of the Nigerian community in Britain about ten days ago in Lincoln.
He tweeted: ‘It was a pleasure and an honor to receive a letter of appointment from the University of Lincoln, UK, as Visiting Professor of Corporate and International Linkages. I also received a very precious gift – a copy of the Magna Carta. It was founded in 1215, about 807 years ago’.
The investigation was launched after detectives were warned in May 2022 about possible violations under modern slavery law, police said.
The couple are two of the most famous faces in the West African state and had been visiting the UK when they were arrested
Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55, and Ike Ekweremadu, 60, both from Nigeria, have been remanded in custody and will appear in Uxbridge Court (pictured) later today
In 2017, a former minister of the Nigerian government claimed that migrants from his country had their organs harvested after being sold into slavery.
Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Nigerian minister of aviation, claimed that 75 percent of slaves who have their organs harvested in North Africa come from his country.
The Cambridge-trained lawyer added that their “bodies are mutilated” and “roasted like suya [shish kebabs]† He continued: ‘Roasted alive! This is what Libyans are doing to sub-Saharan Africans looking for a transit point to Europe.
“They sell them into slavery and kill, mutilate, torture or work them to death.”