Thursday 23 March 2023

The UK: What can he do? How justice was served the Ekweremadus in this organ harvesting case

They are not entirely helpless

It was hardly 6 years ago that I wrote of a case of human trafficking involving Nigerian professionals fundamentally unable to check their privilege in the use and abuse of others for their benefit. The refrain of “What can she do?” was a word-for-word translation from Yoruba, “Kí ló lè e?”

I dare say that there are many with much power, influence, and money in the upper stratum of society from Nigeria who exercise and demonstrate this mindset in exploitation with regard to others without means, opportunity, status, or autonomy.

Blog - The UK: What can she do? How justice was served in this Human Trafficking case

Nigeria presents a theatre for criminality wherein it might be impossible to find redress or justice. However, that sense of untrammelled impunity sometimes bedevils Nigerians who orchestrate that behaviour abroad, as different systems exist for the unlettered and underprivileged to the law not only taking their side but acting with the utmost fiery vehemence to ensure justice is done.

All emotions awry

This morning, I read of the court finding of guilt against Dr Ike Ekweremadu, a 3-time deputy senate president in Nigeria, his wife Dr Beatrice Ekweremadu, an accountant, and a Dr Obinna Obeta who had successfully procured an illegal kidney transplant under false pretences for himself, a few years ago. [BBC News: Ike Ekweremadu: Organ-trafficking plot politician and wife guilty] [The Guardian: Nigerian politician, wife, and a doctor guilty of organ trafficking to UK]

I am both conflicted and incensed by this whole charade; conflicted by the situation of having lost two close relations to chronic kidney disease where a kidney transplant might well have given them hope and life along with the enjoyment of their participation in our lives for amazing stories.

The Ekweremadus were in a desperate situation for their 25-year-old daughter who had fallen ill in 2019 and needed the kindness of a donor to rescue her from the constant trauma of dialysis and incapability due to chronic and debilitating disease.

On that score, any parent would go to the ends of the earth with all the resources they can muster to find everything possible to help their child to health. It is the means by which this is procured that begs the question and has led to the indictment and conviction of the aforementioned parties.

They marshalled people and money

Within the confines of Nigeria, a donor might well have been acquired for exploitation, their organs harvested and the person discarded as a spare part to fend for themselves, after what was a cold heartless transaction. More is demanded of donors in the UK, it has to be altruistic, with coercion or inducement and never a transaction in monetary or other terms.

Through their privileged network of family and friends of considerable clout and influence, they procured a hapless street trader whom they promised a life of opportunity without acquaintance with why they brought him to the UK to have his kidney harvested for their daughter.

It was upon enquiry about his relationship to them and the consequences of his being a donor that the medical establishment decided against proceeding with a transplant.

How they failed themselves

Rather than mollify and commit to some humane endearment of their prospect, he was left in the care of procurer-middleman Dr Obinna Obeta, who for the grace of the kidney of a donor seemed not to have the capacity of self-reflection and gratitude for the gift of life, once possessed, for which he must have felt entitled than to be grateful to anyone from donor or surgeon.

The prospective donor was mistreated that he ran away and lived rough on the streets of London before handing himself in, to the police where his plight unravelled to the detriment of the so-called privileged, powerful, and moneyed Nigerians.

Meanwhile, the Ekweremadus were already shopping for another person to exploit, from whom to harvest a kidney for their daughter in Turkey, at the time the police pounced on them.

Careless with the caring part

It is my view and hence where my anger stems from, that had the apparent donor been treated with a modicum of respect, dignity, honour, and sense of gratitude, he might well have bought into this kidney transplant transaction, himself convinced the medical personnel, gone through with the exchange, had opportunities along with long-term care and consideration from the Ekweremadus apart from the personal sense of gratitude from their daughter that would have engendered a friendship borne of the gift of life shared.

It speaks to the earlier blog that I wrote in 2017 where a doctor and a nurse could have brought someone over from Nigeria to care for their own children and still maltreat that child carer with no sense of reflection or possible consequence on their children. Sometimes, I am just left baffled at the thinking that a carer for your children would be so hopelessly indebted to you that it becomes a licence to abuse them.

Having disregard is costly

What the Ekweremadus facilitated even under desperation and duress for their daughter was both criminal and illegal, they will be consequences and hopefully, lessons for others seeking the help of strangers to learn. From the onset of their arrest through how the case was building up, I personally could not see how they could walk away unscathed as it all seemed underhand, malicious, and seedy.

The words of the Chief Crown Prosecutor present the full indictment of how class, privilege, power, influence, means, and opportunity deludes people into thinking they can get away with it and that there can be no consequences for whatever they do because the people they have brought into their enterprise have nothing but just breath in their nostrils, good enough health, and they are spare parts put on earth for the harvesting to the health and pleasure of their lives and those of their children.

She said, “The convicted defendants showed utter disregard for the victim's welfare, health and well-being and used their considerable influence to a high degree of control throughout, with the victim having limited understanding of what was really going on here.

The disregard for another human being, no matter their status in life can bring you to utter ruin. The Ekweremadus and Dr Obeta would have that to think about as they languish in the restricted confines of His Majesty’s secure accommodations. The irony is that Dr Ike Ekweremadu helped draw up Nigeria’s laws against human trafficking – the mind boggles.

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