Ike Ekweremadu, a former Deputy Senate President, his wife, and a medical “middleman” have been imprisoned for plotting to ship a market trader to the United Kingdom in order to harvest his kidney.
Ekweremadu, 60, his wife Beatrice, 56, and 25-year-old daughter Sonia were accused of conspiracy to bring the man to Britain from Lagos for his organ.
The couple, along with medical “middleman” Dr Obinna Obeta, 50, were found guilty in the Old Bailey in March.
At the ruling on Friday, Ekweremadu was jailed for nine years and eight months, his wife was sentenced to four years and six months’ imprisonment while Obeta received a 10-year prison term.
The victim’s impact statement was read in court revealing his humble background in a Lagos village where he is the oldest of seven siblings living in a home without electricity or running water.
He was forced to become a street trader full time moving to the city to provide for his family when his father fell ill with a heart problem. He sold mobile phone accessories from a wheelbarrow making at most £7 a day and as little as 50p.
He said he was approached with an opportunity to work in the UK, something he had “always dreamed of but never thought would happen.”
Ekweremadu’s legal team submitted 51-pages of character reference to support a lenient sentence for the husband and wife including statements from the former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, the speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives and the Attorney General of the Federation.
Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson then began sentencing the trio in the Old Bailey for trafficking the victim.
Outlining the ground-breaking case, the senior judge, said: “People-trafficking of human organs is a form of slavery.
“It treats human beings and their body parts as commodities to be bought and sold.
“It is a trade that preys on poverty, misery and desperation.”
He told the defendants: “You each played a part in that despicable trade.”
The court had heard how the victim, a 21-year-old street trader from Lagos, was brought to the UK last year to provide a kidney to Sonia Ekweremadu for an £80,000 private transplant at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
While it is lawful to donate a kidney, it becomes criminal if there is a reward of money or other material advantage.
Ike and Beatrice Ekweremadu were arrested on 21 June last year as they arrived on a flight to Heathrow, stepping off the plane with $30,000.