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Diplomatic Response to Ekweremadu’s Conviction

Image of Senator Ike Ekweremadu, released by the UK Metropolitan Police

Former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, a politician from Enugu state was arrested by UK Metropolitan police at the Heathrow Airport in June 2022 on allegations of human organ trafficking.

The senator was charged to a UK court for alleged involvement in human organ trafficking, which constitutes a breach of the British Modern Slavery Act.

The prosecution accused the Senator of facilitating the travel of a 15-year-old boy, David Ukpo, to the UK with the idea of harvesting his organs to save his sick daughter. Ekweremadu’s wife, Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, and his doctor, Obinna Obeta, were also arrested alongside him.

The court found Ekweremadu, his wife, and his doctor guilty of conspiring to exploit a young man.

This was the first case of its kind under the UK’s modern slavery laws. The prosecutor, Huge Davies, claimed that Ekweremadu offered the victim, David Ukpo, £7,000 and promised opportunities in the UK for helping.

He (David Ukpo) only realized what was going on when he met doctors at the hospital.

According to Davies, Senator Ekweremadu, his wife, and his doctor had tried to convince medics at the Royal Free by pretending he was the cousin of their daughter, Sonia, who has a debilitating illness, when in fact they were not related.

The court pronounced him, his wife, and his doctor guilty of conspiring to exploit a young man for his kidney and ordered the former Deputy Senate President to be remanded in prison, and the sentencing will be announced next month.

The UK’s Modern Slavery Act became law in March 2015 and places heavy penalties on offenders, including life sentences. Part one of the Act spells out the punishment to include sentencing, confiscation of assets, and forfeiture of properties, among other measures.

Conviction of Ekweremadu

The conviction of Senator Ekweremadu is a sensitive issue for Nigeria, and requires a careful diplomatic response, as legislators, ECOWAS and former president Olusegun Obasanjo plead for clemency.

Firstly, the Nigerian government should ensure that due process was followed in the investigation and trial of Senator Ekweremadu and his wife. If there are any doubts about the fairness of the trial, the Nigerian government should request a review of the case and engage with the relevant authorities in the UK.

The government should seek to protect the interests of its citizens abroad, particularly those who may be vulnerable to false accusations or unfair trials. This can be achieved through diplomatic engagement with other countries and through the provision of legal and consular support to citizens.

Thirdly, the Nigerian government should ensure that the convictions of Senator Ekweremadu and his wife do not negatively affect the country’s reputation or relations with other countries. This can be achieved through engaging with foreign governments and media outlets to present a balanced view of the situation and to emphasize the commitment of the Nigerian government to upholding the rule of law.

Finally, the Nigerian government should take steps to address the underlying issues that may have contributed to the conviction of Senator Ekweremadu and his wife. This includes addressing the issue of human trafficking, as well as broader issues of corruption and governance that may have contributed to the problem. By taking proactive steps to address these issues, the Nigerian government can help to prevent similar incidents in the future and strengthen the country’s international reputation.