A NIGERIAN politician and his wife appeared in court today charged with trafficking a teenager to the UK they found on the streets of Lagos to harvest his organs for their sick daughter.
Ike Ekweremadu, 60, a former deputy president of the Nigerian Senate, and Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55, are accused of trying to traffic the youngster to transplant his organs to their daughter who suffers from kidney failure.
The 15-year-old was allegedly given the passport of a 41-year-old in order to get into the UK and arrived in the capital in February.
But the teen had no idea he was there to donate a kidney until he went to a hospital appointment in London, a court heard today.
The husband and wife were both charged this morning with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
Appearing at Uxbridge Magistrates Court today, they spoke only to confirm their names, dates of birth and to tell the court clerk they live in Nigeria.
Neither defendant entered any pleas to the charges.
The pair were arrested at Heathrow on Tuesday before boarding a flight to Turkey, the prosecutor added.
Their passports have both been seized by authorities, the court heard.
Ike, who his lawyer said is a principle in a law firm that bears his name and a member of the Nigerian bar, is said to have had £20,000 on him on his arrest.
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Damla Ayas, prosecuting, said the case was a unique one because the majority of the alleged offending took place in the UK but part of it is said to have taken place in their homeland of Nigeria.
She said the Attorney General will need to make a decision within 14 days on whether they could charge them in the UK for all the alleged offences.
The court heard the couple, who have four children, have an address in Willesden, north west London, where their children live.
Ike, wearing a black jumper, and financial accountant Beatrice, wearing a black knitted cardigan with white stripes, both sat ashen faced as the case against them was read out.
Lawyers Gavin Irwin, representing Ike and Antonia Gray, representing Beatrice, said their clients should be bailed under strict conditions but their application was refused.
The lawyers said both their clients denied the charges when interviewed by police.
Mr Irwin told the court: "He is a member of the Senate of Nigeria.
"He previously had an even more senior role as the Deputy President of the Senate of Nigeria.
"He has led a blameless life as a public servant up until now."
Chair of the bench Lois Sheard told them: "These are serious allegations and this matter is now being adjourned to be listed on July 7 at this court."
The child has been cared for by safeguarding authorities and the Metropolitan Police.
The force added: "As criminal proceedings are now underway we will not be providing further details."