Nigeria’s former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice Nwanneka, have been accused of plotting to traffic a homeless boy from Lagos into the United Kingdom to harvest his organs for their ailing daughter.
Ike Ekweremadu and his wife Beatrice Nwanneka
KanyiDaily had earlier reported that the UK metropolitan police announced that the couple were arrested over the allegation of bringing a child to the UK for organ harvesting.
The duo, who were arrested following an investigation by the police’ specialist crime team, are both charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
The court heard how Ekweremadu and Beatrice tried to traffic a 15-year-old homeless boy from Lagos into the UK to transplant his organs to their daughter who suffers from kidney failure.
The pair were arrested at Heathrow on Tuesday before boarding a flight to Turkey – where it was suggested that the procedure could take place – the court heard.
Appearing at Uxbridge Magistrates Court today, they spoke only to confirm their names, dates of birth and to tell the court clerk they live in Nigeria.
Ekweremadu, who his lawyer said is a principle in a law firm that bears his name and a member of the Nigerian bar, is said to have had £20,000 on him on his arrest.
Damla Ayas, prosecuting, said the case was a unique one because the majority of the alleged offending took place in the UK but part of it is said to have taken place in their homeland of Nigeria.
She said the Attorney General will need to make a decision within 14 days on whether they could charge them in the UK for all the alleged offences.
The court heard the couple, who have four children, have another address in Willesden, north west London, where their children live.
Ekweremadu, wearing a black jumper, and financial accountant Beatrice, wearing a black knitted cardigan with white stripes, both sat ashen faced as the case against them was read out.
Lawyers Gavin Irwin, representing Ike and Antonia Gray, representing Beatrice, said their clients should be bailed under strict conditions but their application was refused.
The lawyers said both their clients denied the charges when interviewed by police. Their passports have both been seized by authorities, the court heard.
Prosecutor Damla Ayas said: “It is conspiracy in relation to human trafficking offences for the purposes of organ harvesting. The victim in this case is 15 years old
“They 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 intention to exploit them.”
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, representing Beatrice, 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.”
Ms Ayas said: “In respect of these offences Attorney General consent is required and the Crown require 14 days for that to be obtained.”
Magistrate Lois Sheard said: “These are serious allegations and these matters are now adjourned until 7 July back here at Uxbridge.”
Ms Sheard remanded both defendants into custody ahead of their hearing next month.
The Ekweremadus are charged with ‘conspiring to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation….between 1 August 2021 and 5 May 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 under modern slavery legislation in May 2022.
The Met Police has confirmed that the boy is safe and being looked after. Mr Ekweremadu was held with Nwanneka Ekweremadu in Britain this 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’.
The investigation was launched after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May 2022, the force said.
KanyiDaily had earlier reported that the UK court denied Ike Ekweremadu and his wife Beatrice Nwanneka bail over conspiracy to harvest the organs of the child.
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