The Nigerian couple arrested on suspicion of plotting to harvest the organs of a child in the UK are one of the west African nation’s most high profile politicians and his wife, MailOnline can reveal today.
Ike Ekweremadu, 60, a People’s Democratic Party politician for 19 years who was once Deputy President of the nation’s senate, was held with Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55, in Britain this month.
Mr Ekweremadu has been an elected senator at the Abuja-based parliament since 2003 after moving into politics after years as a lawyer. His wife, five years his junior, is an academic and doctor and also a major public figure in Nigeria. They are believed to have four adult children.
They are both charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting. The have been remanded in custody and will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court today.
The Metropolitan Police has said the child, who is under the age of 18, at the centre of the alleged plot is in care. Organ harvesting involves removing parts of the body, often for cash and against the victim’s will.
Scotland Yard has not given the gender or the age of the child – or the location of the arrests. But given the suspects are appearing in court in Uxbridge, it is likely they were held at the nearby Heathrow Airport.
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.
In 2017 a former Nigerian government minister claimed that migrants from his country were having their organs harvested after being sold into slavery.
Femi Fani-Kayode, a onetime aviation minister in Nigeria, claimed that 75 per cent of slaves who have their organs harvested in North Africa are from his country.
The Cambridge University-educated lawyer added that the victims have their ‘bodies mutilated’ and are ‘roasted like suya [shish kebabs]’. He went on: ‘Roasted alive! This is what Libyans do to sub-Saharan Africans who are looking for a transit point to Europe.
‘They sell them into slavery and either murder, mutilate, torture or work them to death.’