Former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, alongside his wife, Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, has been denied bail and remanded in custody by a United Kingdom court over an allegation bordering on organ trafficking. The couple now is cooling their heels in prison custody after they were denied bail by Uxbridge Magistrate Court in the United Kingdom.
The lawmaker and his wife are facing trial on charges bordering on human trafficking and organ harvesting. The lawmaker and his wife are to remain in custody until July 7 when the case was adjourned for hearing.
The alleged victim, in this case, a homeless 15-year-old boy whose identity is yet to be disclosed, was reportedly brought to the UK by Ekweremadu and his wife from the streets of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital under false pretense.
The statement added that the investigation was launched after detectives were alerted to potential offenses under modern slavery legislation in May 2022.
The BBC reports that when the suspects appeared at the Uxbridge magistrates court in west London and were asked by the clerk for their address, they both replied: “Nigeria”.
The Metropolitan Police has already charged the couple with conspiring to arrange to bring the child to the UK to harvest his organ. The suspects were reportedly arrested near the Heathrow Airport in London. The Metropolitan police said the child has been safeguarded.
The couple was also charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting. Organ harvesting involves removing parts of the body, often for commercial gain and against the victim’s will.
The court heard the prosecution needed permission to proceed because of jurisdiction issues, according to the BBC report.
“In respect of these offenses, the (UK) Attorney General’s consent is required and the Crown requires 14 days for that to be obtained,” Prosecutor Damla Ayas told the court.
The suspects were arrested at Heathrow airport on their way to Istanbul. Reports claim they were planning to procure a kidney from a donor in Turkey after their initial plan failed.
When arrested, Ekweremadu was said to be in possession of $20,000.
But Ekweremadu, in his prepared statement, denied allegations of human trafficking for organ harvesting.
Ekweremadu’s position was contained in a British newspaper, dailymail.com.co.uk.
The paper which quoted Ekerenmadu’s lawyer, Gavin Irwin, reported: “He said at no stage has he arranged transport for anyone with the intention to exploit them.
His wife similarly denied the allegations in her prepared statement, the court heard.
Irwin, representing Ekweremadu, said further said, “There is no question this is a serious allegation. Mr. Ekweremadu is a member of the senate in Nigeria. 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 than 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 lawmaker, a member of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, has been a senator since 2003. He served as Deputy President of the Senate from 2007 to 2019.
He is also a visiting professor at the University of Lincoln. Ekweremadu was recently in the news after saying the South-East region would not vote for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, in 2023.
He holds both Bachelor’s and Masters’ degrees in law from the University of Nigeria and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987.
Author: Dr. Funmi Beckley