A consultant working in a NHS hospital refused to remove a vital organ from a 15-year-old allegedly trafficked to London from the streets of Lagos by the former deputy president of the Nigerian Senate and his wife, a court has heard.
The doctor at the Royal Free in Camden became suspicious about whether the alleged victim was aware he was the donor of the kidney and whether he was 41 as his passport claimed.
Ike Ekweremadu, 60, and Beatrice Ekweremadu, 55, are accused of taking the homeless youngster to the UK from Nigeria to transplant his organs into their daughter who is suffering from kidney failure.
The 15-year-old was given the passport of a 41-year-old in order to get into the UK, but did not know he was there to donate a kidney until he went on a hospital appointment in London, a court heard on Friday.
After he arrived in the capital in February he had a string of medical appointments about kidney donation, but a consultant at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, North London, became concerned about the boy’s real age and if he knew he was there to donate an organ, it is alleged.
Mr 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. Both deny trafficking the boy.
Prosecutor Damla Ayas told Uxbridge Magistrates Court yesterday: ‘The victim was 15. In Nigeria he was approached by both defendants. He was homeless on the streets of Lagos. They deceived him and promised him a better life in the UK. He was given a passport for a 41-year-old. The passport was illegally obtained by these defendants.
He was provided with a medical travel visa saying the purpose of the travel was to provide medical treatment for the defendants’ daughter who was undergoing dialysis in relation to a number of health issues.
‘It was premeditated, it was planned. Blood tests were obtained in Nigeria and he travelled to the UK in February this year.
‘He was taken to several medical appointments in particular a medical appointment at the Royal Free Hospital and was spoken to by a consultant about the organ harvesting for a kidney transplant.
‘The consultant was concerned about his actual age and was concerned he was not aware he was the donor of the kidney. He only found out that the purpose of his visit was for an organ transplant when he visited the hospital’.
Police were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery laws last month.
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’.
They arrested the couple two days ago at Heathrow Airport as they attempted to board a plane to Turkey – where it was suggested that the procedure could take place – the court heard.
Ekweremadu, 60, is said to have had £20,000 on him at the time of his arrest, according to prosecutors.
The child is now under the care of safeguarding authorities and the Metropolitan Police, officials say.