A former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, on Thursday, appeared in United Kingdom (UK) court, after being accused of plotting to traffic a homeless 15-year-old boy from Lagos into the UK in order to harvest his organs.
Daily Mail reports that 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 had earlier been alerted to potential offences last month and arrested the couple two days ago at Heathrow Airport before they flew to Turkey. The boy is now under the care of safeguarding authorities and the Metropolitan Police, officials said on Thursday.
Ekweremadu, 60, and Beatrice, 55, are charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
The senator wore a grey sweater while his wife put on a black and white knitted cardigan at Uxbridge magistrates’ court on Thursday.
The prosecutor, Damla Ayas, said: “It is a conspiracy in relation to human trafficking offences for the purposes of organ harvesting. The victim, in this case, is 15 years old.
“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 the intention to exploit them.
“His wife similarly denied the allegations in her prepared statement,” the court heard.
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 prosecutor made an application to adjourn matters for 14 days.
The magistrate, Lois Sheard, said: “These are serious al- legations and these matters are now adjourned until July 7 back here at Uxbridge.”
Sheard remanded both defendants in custody ahead of their hearing next month.
The Ekweremadus are charged with “conspiring to arrange or facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation between August 1, 2021 and May 5, 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 in May.
The Met Police has confirmed that the boy is safe and being looked after.
Ekweremadu had been in the UK for at least the past fortnight, having met with members of the Nigerian community in Britain in Lincoln around 10 days ago.
In a document that was last night released to the media, Ekweremadu had, in December 2022, written a letter to the British High Commission about a kidney donation for his daughter.
He wrote in support of a visa applicant who was scheduled for medical investigations for a kidney donation to his daughter, Sonia.
He said the donor and his daughter will be at Royal Free Hospital, London and he would be funding it.