The trial of former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, for alleged organ harvesting, resumed in the UK Old Bailey Court, Tuesday, after being in detention for 223 days, with their daughter, conspicuously absent as she is in hospital and according to her lawyers, unable to appear in court as a result of an unspecified rare kidney condition.
Recall that the 60 year old ex-senator and his wife were arrested in June 2022 at Heathrow Airport, London for allegedly planning to have a kidney removed from a 21 year old young male Nigerian, for his daughter, Sonia who needed a kidney to replace her damaged own.
It was after the young man raised alarm upon refusing to agree to the procedure, after running preliminary tests in a hospital in North London that Ike Ekweremadu and his wife were arrested after landing in the UK.
Another man, Dr Obinna Obeta was also arrested much later as he was accused of conspiring to arrange the traveling of a third party with plans to exploit him, under UK Legislation on modern slavery. Eventually, he was detained as Ike Ekweremadu was denied bail over concerns that he was a flight risk. Beatrice and their daughter, Sonia, were however granted conditional bail.
Before the court proceedings, Tuesday, however, there were protests staged in front of the court house. Some of the protesters were against the embattled Ekweremadu, while some others were in support of him. One of the protesters decried: ‘I mean, this case is unbelievable. Where else in the world would you have a deputy senate president, who is still a serving senator, he’s still getting his regular wage?’
At court, Ike Ekweremadu appeared in a grey tracksuit top on Tuesday and when he was asked to confirm his name, his response was ‘yes, miss’. His wife gave the same response. The couple and Dr Obeta approached the dock at about 11am, London time. The court was however, adjourned to 3pm after the prosecutor informed the judge that the Defence only responded to part of the questions asked on Monday evening , which he needed to study.
At 3pm, after the court resumed, the prosecution delayed again, like they did in the morning, stating that they would be ready to sit at 12 noon, next day.
Sonia’s lawyer submitted a psychological report, stating that she was on dialysis, therefore would not be able to make it to court as she was unfit to stand trial. Here was the judge’s response: ‘In principle, we’ll be flexible to permit your client to be excused when necessary. But it seemed her lawyer wanted her to be excused for the entire day, as he stated that tomorrow is not an argument day for the prosecution.’
In a bid to avoid conceding more ground that was allowed, the judge asked if she would be available for 2pm and the response was in the affirmative, which made him excuse her from attending the 12 noon session.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu has served in the Nigerian Senate since May 2003, and is still a card carrying member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. He was Deputy Senate President for three consecutive terms.