Nigerian Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu will appear before the Uxbridge Magistrate’s Court in London today, facing charges under Britain’s Modern Slavery Act.
Ekweremadu is accused of forcing Nigerian citizen David Ukpo to donate his kidney to the senator’s ailing daughter, enlisting a criminal gang to kidnap Ukpo and harvest the organ. The court is expected to release its decision on whether the trial will occur in the UK or in Nigeria. Members of the Nigerian Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs will be traveling to the UK soon.
Modern-day slavery of Nigerians in the UK is a growing issue. Though Ekweremadu claims that Ukpo offered to donate his organ, there are many existing cases of Nigerian expats living in the UK who traffic youths from their country to serve their domestic needs.
As the UK has been accused of lack of conviction following the ratification of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015, it is likely that Britain will try Ekweremadu’s case to avoid further criticism, though an actual conviction is unlikely. Even so, expect Nigerian authorities to push back on this decision, as the country is known for upholding a culture of impunity for government officials.
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Keely is an Analyst with regional expertise in Sub-Saharan Africa. A weekly contributor to the Daily Brief, she specializes in conflict dynamics and geopolitics in West and Central Africa.