Many Nigerians were shocked when the federal lawmaker and his wife, Beatrice, were arrested in the UK, last year.
After the arrest, Ekweremadu, Beatrice, and a medical doctor were charged to court for organ harvesting. During the trial, political associates and well-wishers appealed to the UK government to temper justice with mercy.
But on Friday, the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, UK, sentenced Ekeremadu to nine years and eight months in prison for organ trafficking.
His wife was sentenced to four years and six months in jail, while Obinna Obeta, a doctor who acted as the middleman, got 10 years imprisonment.
According to the UK police, the Ekweremadus brought an alleged kidney donor to the country in order to harvest his organ for their ailing daughter.
Here is a timeline of the issues that surrounded the organ harvesting trial of Ekweremadu.
METROPOLITAN POLICE ANNOUNCED ARREST OF EKEWEREMADU
On June 23, 2022, the UK metropolitan police announced that Ekweremadu and his wife had been arrested for bringing a “child” to the country for organ harvesting.
The police disclosed that an investigation was launched after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May 2022.
EKEWEREMADU CHARGED TO COURT
Hours after the arrest, Ekeweremadu and his wife were charged to Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court for organ harvesting.The couple were, however, denied bail, and the case was adjourned till July 7.
‘MY FAMILY AND I WITH EKWEREMADUS IN THEIR TRAVAIL’
Offering support for the federal lawmaker, on June 26, 2022, Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), expressed concern over the allegation levelled against Ekweremadu, saying justice should be served on the case.
“My family and I are with the Ekweremadus over their travail. We join all men of goodwill in praying for the healing of their daughter and commit them into God’s hand for justice to be done,” Obi wrote on Twitter.
UK SUSPENDED EKWEREMADU AS VISITING PROFESSOR
On June 26, 2022, the University of Lincoln, UK, suspended the federal lawmaker as a visiting professor.
The UK varsity had appointed Ekweremadu as a visiting professor of corporate and international linkages a week before his arrest.
EBONYI DECLARED SUPPORT FOR EKWEREMADU
On June 26, 2022, the Ebonyi state government declared support for the Ekweremadus and offered to contact the family of David Nwamini Ukpo, the kidney donor at the centre of the federal lawmaker ordeal, who is from the state.
CONTROVERSY TRAILED THE BIODATA OF KIDNEY DONOR
On June 26, 2022, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) said the international passport data of David Ukpo shows that he is 21 years old — not 15.
NIS disclosed that Ukpo’s date of birth on his birth certificate issued by the National Population Commission (NPC) indicates that he was born on October 12, 2000 — which means he would be 22 years old in October 2022.
EKWEREMADU SUED NIMC, NIS
On June 27, 2022, Ekwerewadu sued the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) over the controversy surrounding the real age of Ukpo.
The federal lawmaker sought an order directing NIMC and NIS to supply him with the certified true copy (CTC) of Ukpo’s biodata.
REPS PROMISED TO APPLY DIPLOMATIC PRESSURE
On June 28, 2022, the house of representatives resolved to take measures to enable Ekweremadu and his wife get justice in the UK.
Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house, said he would “try” to meet his UK counterpart to ensure the Ekweremadus were given fair treatment.
SENATE SENT DELEGATION TO UK
On June 29, 2022, the senate dispatched a delegation to the UK to see the Ekweremadus over their trial.
EKWEREMADU APPEARED BEFORE UK COURT
On June 30, 2022, Ekweremadu appeared before the Uxbridge Magistrate Court, UK, for his trial.During the court proceedings, the prosecutor said bail cannot be applied to Ekweremadu because he is a “powerful” man who is a flight risk while insisting that the “organ donor” in question is a 15-year-old boy.
The case was again adjourned to July 7 — and transferred to the Westminster Magistrate Court — to allow Suella Braverman, UK attorney-general, to determine whether the case can be tried in Nigeria or UK.
COURT ORDERED NIMC, IMMIGRATION TO RELEASE BIODATA
On July 1, 2022, a federal high court in Abuja ordered the NIMC, immigration, and two commercial banks to provide the certified true copy (CTC) of Ukpo’s biodata.
COURT ORDERED NIMC, IMMIGRATION TO RELEASE UKPO’S BIODATA TO MALAMI
On July 6, 2022, a federal high court in Abuja ordered the NIMC, immigration, and two commercial banks to submit the CTC of Ukpo’s biodata to the attorney-general of the federation (AGF).
UK COURT RULED THAT UKPO IS NOT A MINOR
On July 7, 2022, the Westminster magistrate court in the UK ruled that Ukpo, the purported kidney donor for the daughter of Ekweremadu, is not a minor.Prior to the ruling, the prosecutor had insisted that Ukpo was a minor.
MEDICAL DOCTOR ARRAIGNED FOR PLOTTING WITH EKWEREMADUOn July 13, 2022, Obinna Obeta, a doctor residing in Southwark, South London, was arraigned at Bexley Magistrates court for allegedly plotting with Ekweremadu and his wife to traffic a man into the UK to harvest a kidney for their daughter.
EKWEREMADU’S WIFE GRANTED BAIL
On July 22, 2022, Beatrice was granted bail by the central criminal court in London; but her husband, Ekweremadu, was denied bail.
UK ADJOURNED TRIAL TO 2023
On August 4, 2022, the Central Criminal Court in the UK adjourned the case.
The pretrial applications were scheduled to be heard on October 31, but the trial would commence fully on May 2, 2023.
‘WHY FG DID NOT INTERVENE IN EKWEREMADU’S CASE’
On August 11, 2022, Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, said it is not the practice of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to intervene in judicial matters, whether local or international.
UKPO ASKED COURT NOT TO RELEASE HIS BIODATA TO EKWEREMADU
On August 30, 2022, Ukpo asked the court to set aside an earlier ruling which ordered the release of his bio-data to the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) for transmission to the United Kindom.
In an application filed through his team of lawyers led by Bamidele Igbinedion, Ukpo accused Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, of violating his fundamental human rights.
EKWEREMADU’S DAUGHTER APPEALED FOR KIDNEY
On September 12, 2022, Sonia, Ekweremadu’s daughter, in an Instagram post, appealed for a kidney donation.In a post on Instagram, Sonia said she dropped out of her postgraduate studies at the University of Newcastle in 2019, after she was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) nephrotic syndrome, a rare kidney disease.
EKWEREMADU ASKED COURT TO DISMISS UKPO’S SUIT
On September 11, 2022, Ekweremadu asked a federal high court in Abuja to dismiss the suit filed by Ukpo, seeking to stop NIMC and immigration from releasing his bio-data to the AGF.In a counter affidavit deposed to by his brother, Bright Ekweremadu, the former lawmaker said Ukpo has no basis to fear the release of his information if there is nothing to hide.
EKWEREMADU NAMED MEMBER OF PDP PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL
On September 15, 2022, the national working committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) named the federal lawmaker as a member of its presidential campaign organisation.
LAWYER ASKED COURT TO DECLARE EKWEREMADU’S SEAT VACANT
On September 22, 2022, Ogochukwu Onyema, a lawyer, asked the federal high court in Abuja to declare the senatorial seat of Ekweremadu vacant amid lawmaker detention in the UK.The lawyer asked the court to direct Iyorchia Ayu, PDP national chairman, to forward his name as a replacement. Onyema had contested the party’s ticket for the position in 2019 but lost to the former deputy senate president.
OHANAEZE YOUTH CONDEMNED SUIT
Reacting to the suit, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council expressed dismay over the suit seeking to declare the seat of Ekweremadu vacant, saying the suit was “acidic and satanic”.
EKWEREMADU’S COMMUNITY SHUT MARKETS OVER HIS DETENTION
On October 22, 2022, residents of Mpu community in Aninri LGA of Enugu state shut their market in solidarity with Ekweremadu.
During a one-day prayer summit organised by the leadership of the community, residents prayed for divine intervention over the federal lawmaker’s case.
EKWEREMADU’S DAUGHTER APPEARED IN COURT
On November 7, 2022, Sonia appeared before the central criminal court in the UK and the case was brought forward from May 2023 to January 2023.
UK COURT DECLINED EKWEREMADU’S PLEA FOR BAIL
On December 20, 2022, the Central Criminal Court in the UK again refused to grant bail to Ekweremadu, citing that the federal lawmaker was a flight risk.
MEDICAL REPORT SHOWED EKWEREMADU’S DAUGHTER UNFIT FOR TRIAL
On January 30, Sonia was absent from a United Kingdom court where she was facing criminal charges.Sonia’s defence team told the court she was unable to attend court as she was in hospital with an unspecified condition.
‘I WAS ADVISED TO SEEK KIDNEY DONOR OUTSIDE FAMILY MEMBERS’
On March 9, Ekweremadu told the court that he opted for a non-family kidney donor for his daughter, Sonia, following advice from Diwe, his brother, who is a medical doctor.
EKWEREMADU’S WIFE DENIED INVOLVEMENT
On March 13, Beatrice told the court that she was not involved in the search for a kidney donor for her daughter.
EKWEREMADU, WIFE FOUND GUILTY OF ORGAN TRAFFICKING
On March 23, Ekweremadu, Beatrice, and Obeta were found guilty of organ trafficking by the central criminal court in the UK.The conviction is the first verdict of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act.
OBASANJO WROTE TO UK COURT
On April 3, Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in a letter addressed to the chief clerk of central criminal court in the UK, asked the court to “temper justice with mercy” on Ekweremadu and Beatrice.
ECOWAS PARLIAMENT SPEAKER WROTE TO UK COURT
On April 6, Sidie Tunis, speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) parliament, in a letter addressed to the chief clerk of central criminal court in UK, pleaded with the court to show mercy on Ekweremadu and Beatrice.
REPS SOUGHT CLEMENCY FOR EKWEREMADUS
On May 2, the house of representatives asked the UK government and parliament to intervene in the sentencing of Ekweremadu and Beatrice.
LIKE REPS, SENATE SOUGHT CLEMENCY FOR EKWEREMADUS
On May 3, during plenary, the senate sought leniency for the couple ahead of their sentencing in the UK.
NiDCOM SOUGHT CLEMENCY FOR EKWEREMADUS
On May 3, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chairperson of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), appealed to the UK government to be lenient with Ekweremadu.
On Friday, Ekeremadu was sentenced to nine years and eight months in prison, his wife was sentenced to four years and six months in jail, while Obinna Obeta, a doctor who acted as the middleman, got 10 years imprisonment