Top Nigerian senator charged over organ-harvesting plot

Ike Ekweremadu has been charged with conspiracy to facilitate travel with a view to exploitation.

A Nigerian senator and a woman have been charged with conspiring to arrange to bring a child to the UK to harvest organs, the Metropolitan Police said.

Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55, and Ike Ekweremadu, 60, both from Nigeria, were charged with conspiracy – as they facilitated the travel of another person with the intention of exploiting the human body, specifically harvesting human organs.

They have been remanded in custody and will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court later on Thursday.

The Met said a child has been safeguarded.

The investigation was launched after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May 2022, the force said.

Mr Ekweremadu was one of the most senior and well-connected politicians in Nigeria.

He was a member of the main opposition group, the People’s Democratic Party, and has served as a senator for the south-eastern Enugu State since 2003.

Mr Ekweremadu was an old ally of Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan, and served as the Deputy President of the Nigeria Senate, one of the most powerful positions in the country, from 2007 to 2019.

A trained lawyer, he was appointed as the Visiting Professor of Corporate and International Linkages at the University of Lincoln earlier this month.

While accepting the appointment, Mr Ekweremadu reportedly said that he saw it as “a call to serve humanity and I am always highly appreciative of it”.

The People’s Democratic Party declined to give a comment

The trafficking of human beings for organ removal was a major issue in North and West Africa, where impoverished and displaced people were at greater risk of exploitation, according to Interpol.

An Italian government investigation found that African migrants trying to reach Europe but were unable to pay for their journeys across the Mediterranean were sold to organ traffickers in 2016.

The World Health Organisation estimated that between five and 10 per cent of global organ transplants were performed using illegally sourced organs.

The European Union (EU) estimated that the organ trafficking business was worth between 600m and 1.2bn dollars annually. -BBC

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