“We don’t have issues, court cases donating kidney in Nigeria” – Ekweremadu’s lawyer tells UK court.

Ike Ekweremadu, a former vice-president of the Senate, has denied saying he would pay the potential kidney donor for helping his sick daughter, claiming that such activities are less unusual in his nation.

Ekweremadu, 60, his wife Beatrice, 56, their daughter Sonia, 25, and medical “middleman” Obinna Obeta, 50, are charged with arranging to set up or enable a young man’s visit to Britain with the intention of exploiting him, according to a report issued by the Daily Mail on Wednesday.Read more

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A better life in the UK and up to £7,000 were allegedly promised to the 21-year-old street vendor from Lagos in exchange for his kidney donation to Sonia Ekweremadu.

It is alleged he was falsely presented as Sonia’s cousin in a failed bid to persuade medics at the Royal Free Hospital in London to carry out the £80,000 private procedure.

In opening addresses at the Old Bailey on Wednesday, lawyers for the defendants insisted they believed the donor, who cannot be identified, was acting ‘altruistically’.

Martin Hicks KC, for Ike Ekweremadu, told jurors: “Be alive please to the possible cultural differences between this country and that of Nigeria, particularly to altruistic donation.

“We say the issue in this case is simple – did there exist an agreement to exploit (the donor) in the way the prosecution allege and if so who was a party to it?”

The politician’s case is that Dr Obeta had spoken to Ekweremadu’s medically trained brother Diwe in the autumn of 2021 and had offered to help find Sonia a prospective donor.

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Mr Hicks said: “In Nigerian society there is an expression ‘everyone is each other’s keeper’ and the altruistic donation of organs is not regarded there as such a rare event as it is in this country.

“He will also say he was told (the donor) had offered to altruistically donate a kidney to Sonia.

“He denies he put directly or indirectly any reward to (the donor) or offered to do so and throughout he believed (the donor) was content to do so without reward.”

According to Mr. Hicks, Ekweremadu relied on the “medical knowledge and standing” of the doctors involved and only communicated with them through his brother Diwe.

He asserted that he didn’t know about an internet application that stated the young guy was linked to Sonia and that he had lied in support of the donor’s request for a visa to enter the UK.

Mr. Hicks claimed that during visits to the Royal Free Hospital in February and March of last year, which led to the determination that the donor was inappropriate, Ekweremadu did not present.

He added: “In April 2022 and with the assistance of Diwe he continued the family search for a suitable donor for his daughter Sonia and that search continues.

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“We question whether (the donor) was exploited as suggested by the prosecution.”

Speaking on behalf of Sonia, John Femi-Ola KC said: “She suffers from a very severe kidney disease. She receives dialysis treatment three days per week. Each session is for four hours.

“The treatment is for the rest of her life unless there is a transplant in the future which now must be much in doubt given the publicity this case has attracted.

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“Her illness is life threatening, life limiting and potentially life ending. Of course her parents love her as do all her immediate family and friends.

“It may not surprise you to learn that everyone, in particular her parents, would wish to protect her against the emotional and psychological stress which you may think accompanies such a terrible illness.

“It is her case that she had no awareness of any reward or other material advantage offered to potential donors that came forward to help her.”


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