Ekweremadu docked in UK, denies organ harvesting allegations




 

…Senator lead blameless life, wife not complicit, has unblemished record – Counsels   

‘Lawmaker wrote, requested visa for victim December’  

A Nigerian lawmaker and former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, alongside his wife, Beatrice, Thursday  appeared before a United Kingdom   court  over alleged plot to traffic a homeless child into the UK in order to harvest his organs.

They are standing trial for allegedly trafficking a 15-year-old boy to the UK from Lagos. 

However, Blueprint findings revealed the lawmaker formally wrote to the visa section of the British High Commission in Nigeria where he sought visa for the boy, believed to be 21-year-old as against 15, stated before the court.

According to the letter, the ‘victim’ Mr Ukpo Nwamini David, was billed to donate a kidney to Sonia, the accused persons’ daughter, down with kidney failure and needed a kidney transplant to stay alive.

Appearance before the court

But notwithstanding the letter, the duo were arrested and appeared before the UK court Thursday.

The court heard the couple, who have four children and a house in Willesden, North London, hoped to transplant the boy’s organs to their daughter who suffers from kidney failure.   

Police were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery laws last month and arrested the couple two days ago Heathrow Airport as they attempted to board a plane to Turkey, the court heard.

“Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55 (10.9.66) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting,” a statement by the police reads.

“Ike Ekweremadu, 60 (12.05.62) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting,” the court further heard.

Prosecutors said Ekweremadu had £20,000 on him on at the time of his arrest, according to prosecutors.

The senator was wearing a grey sweater while his wife was wearing a black and white knitted cardigan at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court today(Thursday).

Prosecutor

Prosecutor Damla Ayas said: ‘It is conspiracy in relation to human trafficking offences for the purposes of organ harvesting. The victim in this case is 15-year- 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.

Ekweremadu, wife’s counsels

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.”

Antonia Gray, for Mrs. Ekweremadu, said: “She has never been complicit or involved in any alleged illegal trafficking of any young person. She is a financial accountant…with an unblemished record.”

The couple have an address they could stay at in Willesden, northwest London, the court heard.

The prosecutor made an application to adjourn matters for 14 days.

Ms Ayas said: “In respect of these offences Attorney General consent is required and the Crown require 14 days for that to be obtained.”

Court rules

Magistrate Lois Sheard said: “These are serious allegations and these matters are now adjourned until 7 July back here at Uxbridge.”

Ms Sheard refused the duo any bail and ordered them into custody ahead of their hearing next month.

The Ekweremadus are charged with ‘conspiring to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation….between 1 August 2021 and 5 May 2022 within the jurisdiction of Central Criminal Court’.

The investigation was launched by the Met’s Specialist Crime team after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May 2022.

The Met Police has confirmed that the boy is safe and being looked after.

 Ekweremadu was held with Nwanneka Ekweremadu in Britain this month.

 Ekweremadu has been an elected senator at 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 doctor and also a major public figure in Nigeria. They are believed to have four adult children.

The Metropolitan Police has said the child, who is under the age of 18, at the centre of the alleged plot is in care.

Organ harvesting involves removing parts of the body, often for cash and against the victim’s will.

Ekweremadu has been in the UK for at least the past fortnight having met with members of the Nigerian community in Britain in Lincoln around ten days ago. 

He tweeted: “It was a pleasure and an honour to receive a letter of appointment by the University of Lincoln, UK, as Visiting Professor of Corporate and International Linkages. I also got a highly treasured 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 potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May 2022, the force said.

Ekweremadu’s letter reveals victim’s identity

But in a letter dated December 28, 2021 and signed by the embattled lawmaker, the identity of the ‘trafficked child’ was revealed.

The letter, signed by Ekweremadu and addressed to the Visa Section of the British High Commission Abuja, revealed the victim’s name as Mr Ukpo Nwamini David.

The letter said Nwamini was scheduled to donate a kidney to Sonia, the lawmaker’s daughter, who is down with kidney failure and needed a kidney transplant to keep her alive.

In the letter, the lawmaker said he was writing in support of a visa applicant who was scheduled for “medical investigations for a kidney donation to Ms Sonia Ekweremadu.”

He said the donor and his daughter “will be at the Royal Free Hospital London”, adding that he would “be providing the necessary funding.”

 “I have enclosed a statement of my bank account,” the letter further stated.

It was gathered that the boy had already consented to the arrangement until his arrival in London where it was discovered that his kidney didn’t match that of Sonia.

When Blueprint put a call through to the lawmaker’s media adviser, Uche Anichukwu last night, all the telephones were switched off.

However, an unofficial account gathered from the Facebook absolved the lawmaker of any plot to harvest organ.  

Putting up a defence for the former deputy senate president, one Ikem Okuhu, on his Facebook page claimed  Ekweremadu wasn’t involved in any organ trafficking.

The defence of sort, seems to have agreed with the lawmaker’s letter to the UK High Commission.

 “He (Ike) has a daughter who needs a kidney transplant and a willing donor was seen in Nigeria and travel preparations were made.

“Ike Ekweremadu did write to the British High Commission, explaining the situation and the donor travelled to the UK with the patient. The donor is a 21 year old man and not a girl as many are writing.

“He is not a minor and as it happened, the organ did not even match,” Okuhu narrated.

Okuhu further said: “Not wanting to return to Nigeria, the donor went to report that he was trafficked to London for possible organ harvest, believing the same would guarantee him asylum.” Additional reports from Daily Mail UK

Dailymail.co.uk

Ekweremadu docked in UK, breaks silence on organ harvesting allegationsHide quoted text

By Taiye Odewale,

Abuja with Agency

A Nigerian lawmaker and former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, alongside his wife, Beatrice, Thursday  appeared before a United Kingdom   court  over alleged plot to traffic a homeless child into the UK in order to harvest his organs.

They are standing trial for allegedly trafficking a 15-year-old boy to the UK from Lagos. 

However, Blueprint findings revealed the lawmaker formally wrote to the visa section of the British High Commission in Nigeria where he sought visa for the boy, believed to be 21-year-old as against 15, stated before the court.

According to the letter, the ‘victim’ Mr Ukpo Nwamini David, was billed to donate a kidney to Sonia, the accused persons’ daughter, down with kidney failure and needed a kidney transplant to stay alive.

Appearance before the court

But notwithstanding the letter, the duo were arrested and appeared before the UK court Thursday.

The court heard the couple, who have four children and a house in Willesden, North London, hoped to transplant the boy’s organs to their daughter who suffers from kidney failure.   

Police were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery laws last month and arrested the couple two days ago Heathrow Airport as they attempted to board a plane to Turkey, the court heard.

“Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55 (10.9.66) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting,” a statement by the police reads.

“Ike Ekweremadu, 60 (12.05.62) of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting,” the court further heard.

Prosecutors said Ekweremadu had £20,000 on him on at the time of his arrest, according to prosecutors.

The senator was wearing a grey sweater while his wife was wearing a black and white knitted cardigan at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court today(Thursday).

Prosecutor

Prosecutor Damla Ayas said: ‘It is conspiracy in relation to human trafficking offences for the purposes of organ harvesting. The victim in this case is 15-year- 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.

Ekweremadu, wife’s counsels

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.”

Antonia Gray, for Mrs. Ekweremadu, said: “She has never been complicit or involved in any alleged illegal trafficking of any young person. She is a financial accountant…with an unblemished record.”

The couple have an address they could stay at in Willesden, northwest London, the court heard.

The prosecutor made an application to adjourn matters for 14 days.

Ms Ayas said: “In respect of these offences Attorney General consent is required and the Crown require 14 days for that to be obtained.”

Court rules

Magistrate Lois Sheard said: “These are serious allegations and these matters are now adjourned until 7 July back here at Uxbridge.”

Ms Sheard refused the duo any bail and ordered them into custody ahead of their hearing next month.

The Ekweremadus are charged with ‘conspiring to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation….between 1 August 2021 and 5 May 2022 within the jurisdiction of Central Criminal Court’.

The investigation was launched by the Met’s Specialist Crime team after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May 2022.

The Met Police has confirmed that the boy is safe and being looked after.

 Ekweremadu was held with Nwanneka Ekweremadu in Britain this month.

 Ekweremadu has been an elected senator at 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 doctor and also a major public figure in Nigeria. They are believed to have four adult children.

The Metropolitan Police has said the child, who is under the age of 18, at the centre of the alleged plot is in care.

Organ harvesting involves removing parts of the body, often for cash and against the victim’s will.

Ekweremadu has been in the UK for at least the past fortnight having met with members of the Nigerian community in Britain in Lincoln around ten days ago.

He tweeted: “It was a pleasure and an honour to receive a letter of appointment by the University of Lincoln, UK, as Visiting Professor of Corporate and International Linkages. I also got a highly treasured 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 potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May 2022, the force said.

Ekweremadu’s letter reveals victim’s identity

But in a letter dated December 28, 2021 and signed by the embattled lawmaker, the identity of the ‘trafficked child’ was revealed.

The letter, signed by Ekweremadu and addressed to the Visa Section of the British High Commission Abuja, revealed the victim’s name as Mr Ukpo Nwamini David.

The letter said Nwamini was scheduled to donate a kidney to Sonia, the lawmaker’s daughter, who is down with kidney failure and needed a kidney transplant to keep her alive.

In the letter, the lawmaker said he was writing in support of a visa applicant who was scheduled for “medical investigations for a kidney donation to Ms Sonia Ekweremadu.”

He said the donor and his daughter “will be at the Royal Free Hospital London”, adding that he would “be providing the necessary funding.”

 “I have enclosed a statement of my bank account,” the letter further stated.

It was gathered that the boy had already consented to the arrangement until his arrival in London where it was discovered that his kidney didn’t match that of Sonia.

When Blueprint put a call through to the lawmaker’s media adviser, Uche Anichukwu last night, all the telephones were switched off.

However, an unofficial account gathered from the Facebook absolved the lawmaker of any plot to harvest organ.  

Putting up a defence for the former deputy senate president, one Ikem Okuhu, on his Facebook page claimed  Ekweremadu wasn’t involved in any organ trafficking.

The defence of sort, seems to have agreed with the lawmaker’s letter to the UK High Commission.

 “He (Ike) has a daughter who needs a kidney transplant and a willing donor was seen in Nigeria and travel preparations were made.

“Ike Ekweremadu did write to the British High Commission, explaining the situation and the donor travelled to the UK with the patient. The donor is a 21 year old man and not a girl as many are writing.

“He is not a minor and as it happened, the organ did not even match,” Okuhu narrated.

Okuhu further said: “Not wanting to return to Nigeria, the donor went to report that he was trafficked to London for possible organ harvest, believing the same would guarantee him asylum.” Additional reports from Daily Mail UK

Dailymail.co.uk