When I was growing up in the village in the 1960s and 1970s, my dear mother always told me, “you will bury me”. I could not then process the meaning. Why would my mother who was still alive, hale and hearty, tell me I will bury her? I can now understand. Indeed, I did bury her in a most befitting manner when she transited in 1997. May our children not kill us. May they bury us instead. Amen. This is thus the usual prayer of parents. This has not quite worked out for the Ekweremadus. The genesis and revelation of their ordeal leading to their conviction and jail in faraway cold London arose wholly from their child’s kidney malfunction and their perseverance as parents to save her life. Sonia, the recurring decimal in their travails, puts it most eloquently when she moaned, “I feel guilty, I feel like all this has happened because of me”. She is right. Her health condition called Nephrotic syndrome, a condition where the kidney does not function properly, ignited the entire brouhaha.
Sonia’s survival depends on continuous dialysis for the rest of her life; or a kidney transplant. Senator Ekweremadu’s desire to save his daughter’s life has now put him away in cold London for nearly 10 years. He was first arrested with Beatrice, his wife, on June 23, 2022, by the London Metropolitan Police. They were charged with conspiracy to facilitate the travel for another person with the intention of exploitation – specifically for organ harvesting. At the Uxbridge Magistrate Court where they were arraigned the next day, they pleaded not guilty. They were ordered to be remanded in custody by Magistrate Lois Sheard, pending hearing, because of the severity of the charge. God, may our children bury, not kill us.
THE HOLY BOOKS TO OUR RESCUE
The Bible in Ecclesiastes 6:3 (King James Bible version), tells us:
“If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.”
The Holy Quran, Surah Al-Anam (the cattle) in 6:151 states, “Say (O Prophet to the infidels), “Come, and I shall recite what your Lord has prohibited for you: Do not associate anything with Him (as His partner); and be good to parents, and do not kill your children because of poverty – We will give provision to you, and to them as well – and do not go near shameful acts, whether they are open or secret; and do not kill a person whom Allah has given sanctity, except rightfully. This He has enjoined upon you, so that you may understand”.
The Ekweremadus’ nasty experience makes me really sad and sober. I can only at this juncture find no consolation than the poem of Adly Guigris, in loving memory of Jackson Antonio Clark, titled: “No Parent should have to bury their child.” May our children bury, not kill us.
ORIGIN OF THE PRAYER
“May our children bury but not kill us” is a cheeky twist on the traditional notion of the abhorrence of parents burying their own children. It is a reminder that we should strive to create a future where our children outlive and bury us, rather than they inheriting a world where we dig their own graves. It is also the twist of a degenerate phrase by which we are made to pay for the sins of our children. This ancient belief encapsulates the essence of inter-generational responsibility and the urgency to take action. It is a gentle nudge, reminding us that our decisions today do ultimately shape the world our children will inherit tomorrow.
“Let our children bury, but not kill us” therefore serves as a witty call to duty, inviting us to consider the consequences of our today’s actions and the legacy we intend to leave behind. It challenges us to think beyond our immediate needs and desires. It urges us to prioritise the well-being of future generations. The proverb also serves as a whimsical reminder that our children deserve a better world where they can flourish, rather than being burdened with the consequences of our own mistakes. In its clever twist, it encourages us to embrace responsible decision-making and sustainable practices as we navigate the complex challenges of our time. This is to ensure we leave behind for our children, a world brimming with opportunities and hope.
This proverb wholly encapsulates the challenges of parenthood and the profound sacrifices we make to ensure the continuation of our lineage, even as we journey inexorably to the mythical realm of our ancestors. So, may our children bury, not kill us.
MY HEART BLEEDS FOR THE EKWEREMADUS
This captivating and surreal story of the Ekweremadus has garnered national and global interest of monumental proportions, not solely due to his celebrity status or political notoriety, but primarily because it provokes the question “what would you have done in his peculiar situation?” Readers, answer this question very honestly. Leave out fixations, stereotypes, anger, disappointment, vengeance, revenge, sentiments, emotions, clannishness, nepotism, sectionalism, etc. what would you have done finding yourself in Senator Ekweremadu’s shoes? Tell me. May our children bury, not kill us.
THE CONVICTIONS AND JAIL TERMS
The tale of Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s conviction and nine years and six months jail sentence in a judgement passed on him by Judge Jeremy Johnson at London’s Old Bailey Criminal Court on Friday 5th May, 2023, is for me personally, heart-rending and most traumatic. To compound the travails of the 60-year-old brilliant Prince of Mpu, Aninri LGA, Enugu State, a four-time Senator; a brilliant lawyer and tested politician, his beautiful wife, Beatrice, was also convicted and jailed for four years and six months. One Dr Obinna Obeta, 50, the very medical doctor (himself a kidney transplant survivor), who was found to have acted as the middleman in the kidney organ harvesting odyssey (which started in May, 2023), was jailed for 10 years. Only Ekweremadu’s daughter, 25 years old Sonia, whose ailment ignited the Ekweremadus’ agony was set free. I personally feel both sympathy and empathy for this great Nigerian, who before his “substantial fall from grace” (to use the words of Judge Jeremy Johnson), loomed larger than life in the political and legislative firmaments of Nigeria. Yes, sympathy and empathy are not contradictory or mutually exclusive. I have sympathy because I feel pity and sorrow for him over his misfortune. Empathy for him because I can understand and feel Ekweremadu’s agony, trauma, tears, pains and pangs, from my own little corner, rather than his. Dr Brene Brown’s TED talk narrated through RSA Animate, explains the difference. Sympathy is when you see someone in a deep hole, but you remain on higher ground and speak to him from above. You may even decide to put a silver lining in his pitiable situation, instead of merely acknowledging his pains.
Conversely, empathy is when you feel for the person and climb down the hole to sit beside him and make yourself vulnerable so as to sincerely connect with the person in pains. In this case, you recognise the person’s struggles and pains, but cannot minimise them. My deep inner feelings for Ekweremadu combine both sympathy and empathy. For those who do not like this my thesis, may our children not kill, but bury us.
THE RICH ALSO CRIES
I have heard and read some people who gloat and jubilate over Ekweremadu’s travails. They anchor this mostly on deep-seated anger and sentiments on the usual class “war” between the rich and the poor; the aristocrats and the peasants. The poor are happy. Yes, happy that the rich for once also cries – courtesy, Amaechi Nzekwe’s novel, “The Rich Also Cry: Stories for Young Readers”. Even the Holy Bible agrees with this, when it admonishes us in Luke 12:13-11,thus: “Then, give thanks and don’t be an ingrate such as the rich fool who thought it was all about his wealth, forgetting that the rich could also cry”. The proverb demonstrates that even the rich people have their own painful times when life proves very tough, difficult, even empty and vacuous. A time they want to let go and end it all. Have you, rich readers, ever experienced such a low moment? A state of nadir! Don’t divulge please. But such people basking in a sense of triumphalism easily forget the immortal post-war confessional prose by the anti-nazi regime German theologian and Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemoller, when he said, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Catholic. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me”. I do not therefore join the orchestra of those “gotcha” chorus fellows. When you point only one finger at others, the remaining four are pointing at you. When you throw a stone into the market, you do not know whom it may hit. It could be your parents, siblings, children or loved ones. So, may our children bury, not kill us.
THE SENTIMENTS, THE EMOTIONS
IS ORGAN HARVESTING A FORM OF SLAVERY?
In a matter as sensitive as this and which is of international interest, facts and fiction are bound to clash and rival for space. It evokes emotive feelings of the over 2,000 years old slave trade where over 12.5million Africans were enslaved. It took many years of fierce intervention and intercession by the Abolitionists such as William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, William Cowper, Olaudah Equiano (an Igbo man), Alexander Falconbridge, Elizabeth Heyrick, Toussant Louverture, John Newton, Mary Prince and Abraham Lincoln to abolish this man’s inhumanity to man. So, mentioning slavery in modern times evokes emotive feelings of rejection. May our children bury, not kill us. May our children bury, not kill us.
THE MODERN SLAVERY ACT, 2015
After the British Slave Abolition Act of 1833, the Modern Slavery Act of 2015 was enacted. This Act encompasses human trafficking and all forms of exploitation. These include the act of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring and receipt of persons.
THE MEANS OF MODERN SLAVERY
The means of modern slavery include coercion, ritual oaths, financial control, debt bondage, abduction, blackmail, abuse of power, over vulnerability, deception, “Stockholm’s syndrome”, grooming, restriction of movement, threats to friends or family, social stigma.
THE PURPOSE OF MODERN SLAVERY
The purpose of modern day slavery includes sexual, labour and criminal exploitation, organ harvesting, bonded labour, domestic servitude, forced fraud, forced marriage, etc.
When I read section 2(1), 2(2), 2(3) and 2(7) of the Modern Slavery Act, 2015, I shook my head. I immediately knew Senator Ekweremadu was in deep trouble. The sections provide as follows:
“(1) A person commits an offence if the person arranges or facilitates the travel of another person (“V”) with a view to V being exploited.
(2) It is irrelevant whether V consents to the travel (whether V is an adult or a child).
(3) A person may in particular arrange or facilitate V’s travel by recruiting V, transporting or transferring V, harbouring or receiving V, or transferring or exchanging control over V.
(7) A person who is not a UK national commits an offence under this section if—(a) any part of the arranging or facilitating takes place in the United Kingdom, or (b) the travel consists of arrival in or entry into, departure from, or travel within, the United Kingdom.”
FACTS AND FICTION
Let us see if we can carefully separate the facts from the fiction; the truth from the falsehood.
ONE NARRATIVE AGAINST DAVID, THE KIDNEY DONOR
David Ukpo Nwamini, the organ victim, was said to have claimed to be 15 and underaged. But the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) disputed this and revealed his true age as 21. The Comptroller General of NIS, Mr Isah Idris, released a statement on June 27, 2022, clarifying that there was no age falsification on the passport issued by the Immigration agency, contrary to David’s claims. He emphasized that the NIS followed proper procedures in issuing the passport. Some people therefore believed that David, the alleged victim actually exploited the couple to seek asylum in the UK. Such people wonder what he was given in return for simply being picked from the streets of Lagos to go to London. Just like that! Why did he receive the sum of N270, 000 he confessed receiving at all? Were the Ekweremadus simply walking on the street and doling out money to whoever cared to receive? Just why?
Ekweremadu’s daughter had been diagnosed with a kidney disease and required a transplant. Embracing the South African Proverb: ‘Motho ke motho ka batho’—A person’s essence is connected to others, Ike Ekweremadu’s resolved to aid his ailing child. This was how David came into the picture. May our children bury, not kill us.
WHAT WORKED AGAINST EKWEREMADU
David, the potential donor had been identified and sent to the UK for assessment with the intention of providing the much needed kidney. He was paid. However, it was discovered that David Nwamini’s (the donor) kidney did not match that of Ekweremadu’s daughter, Sonia. His ineloquent English also raised suspicion among the doctors as to whether he actually understood what he was about to do. Consequently, David the donor was scheduled to return to Nigeria. However, this source claims, David having seen the beauty of London (away from his dreary life on Lagos streets), reneged and refused to return to Nigeria. Instead, he bolted and sought asylum with the UK Police, after wandering the street for three days. He claimed hunger and attempt by the Ekweremadus to harvest his kidney. His story was moving. Even believable. May our children bury, not kill us.
DAVID, THE VICTIM, STATES HIS OWN CASE
However, David Nwamini, the individual at the centre of this case, denied this. He sais he had always longed for life in the United Kingdom, away from his wheelbarrow business of selling recharge cards, purewater and mobile phone accessories on the streets of Lagos. He claimed that he was enticed to move to the UK with the lure of job opportunities. Nwamini stated this in his impact statement, which was presented in court. Nwamini shared details about his heart-rending humble upbringing in a Lagos village, where he was the eldest among seven siblings living in a dingy household without access to electricity or running water. Of course, this is the typical life of most Nigerians in the ghettos, I can hear many murmur.
David added that due to his father’s sudden illness with a heart problem, he was compelled to become a full-time street trader in the city of Lagos to support his family. He therefore resorted to the wheelbarrow business; earning a maximum of £7 per day, and sometimes as little as 50 pennies.
David recounted how an opportunity to work in the UK (a long-held but seemingly unattainable dream), was thus presented to him. However, he was taken aback when he discovered the real purpose of the trip: his organs were to be harvested and given to Ekweremadu’s daughter, Sonia.
Hear him: “He [Dr Obinna Obeta, the Medical Doctor middleman], did not tell me he brought me here for this reason, he did not tell me anything about this. I would have not agreed to any of this, my body is not for sale”.
David pleaded that he would not want to return to Nigeria because he is worried for his safety. The victim claimed someone visited his father in Nigeria and asked him to get the victim, his son, to drop the case.
“I worry for my safety in Nigeria; those people can do anything. I think they could arrest me or kill me in Nigeria,” he added. He told the Police he did not want to claim compensation from the “bad people” as it would be “cursed and bad luck”.
Judge Jeremy Johnson was obviously swayed by David’s own touching side of the story. He saw David as the victim who did not deliberately come out to entrap the Ekweremadus. In a very measured (I don’t want to say the usual firm coldness of the British) tone, he convicted Ike Ekweremadu, whom he regarded as “the driving force throughout”.
In this first UK case of its kind, the Judge convicted Ike Ekweremadu for his role in a “despicable trade” that took advantage of the “poverty, misery and desperation” of vulnerable people.
“People-trafficking across international borders for harvesting of human organs is a form of slavery”, the Judge at Old Bailey Criminal Court said as he handed down the jail term.
“It treats human beings and their body parts as commodities to be bought and sold”, he added, noting that the sentence represented a “substantial fall from grace” for Ekweremadu. May our children bury, not kill us.
THE LAW IS CLEAR
Lynette Woodtow, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor and National Modern Slavery lead at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), enthused it had been “our first conviction for trafficking for the purposes of organ removal in England and Wales.”
She said it highlighted an important legal principle which made it irrelevant whether the trafficking victim knew he was coming to the UK to provide a kidney.
“With all trafficking offences,” Ms Woodrow said, “the consent of the person trafficked is no defence. The law is clear; you cannot consent to your own exploitation”. It is thus a strict liability offence.
HOW THE TWISTS FAVOURED DAVID
The story in David’s favour suggests that the doctors who had examined David did not know whether a crime had been committed. But, they were obviously not comfortable with the yawning discrepancies in David’s dozier. Was David sure he wanted to donate his kidney? Everything appeared smooth. The bubble however burst when Ekweremadu and Dr. Obinna attempted to dispatch David back to Nigeria. David who had neither been given a job, nor sent to school as he said he was promised, was not prepared to return to Nigeria. So, he bolted from his kernel and ran to a Police Station to save himself from starvation. He lied he was only 15 to curry sympathy. He was asked if he was paid money, and he said he was paid only N270, 000. But, the Police upon scrutiny of the Whatsapp chats between Ekweremadu and Dr. Obeta discovered that Ekweremadu had actually given N4.5 Million to Obeta to be delivered to David. But, a greedy Obeta only gave David a miserly N270, 000 and pocketed the balance. The shame of a merchantilistic medical doctor who may never practise medicine again!
Because Ekweremadu kept away from dealing directly with David, it was easy for Obeta (the middle man) to fleece him. This was why he was unaware and kept in the dark of Obeta’s so glaring a scam. But, Judge Jeremy saw through this façade and simulation. He pierced it. He believed Ekweremadu’s indirect involvement with David highlighted the well-worn style of Aristocrats, who play fast and smart by keeping far away from crime scenes, so as to avoid direct involvement in the crime. They usually maintain some cold distance between themselves and the crime, so as to plead alibi. May our children bury, not kill us.
WHAT MULTIPLIED EKWEREMADU’S WOES
One major factor that was highly detrimental to Ekweremadu’s greatest undoing was Obeta’s lying on Oath. Three official documents he signed stated that David was Sonia’s cousin (thus, Ekweremadu’s nephew). However, all the WhatsApp chats between Dr Obeta and his own brother clearly showed Ekweremadu constantly referring to David as “that guy”. Indeed Obeta was to admit in open court that he had lied. He apologized profusely. The sentiments obviously played out against a “big man” (Ekweremadu) who was ready to pluck out a peasant’s kidney to save his own daughter, by paying £7000 to the donor; and further ready to pay for the surgery with a whopping £80, 000 at the Royal Free Hospital, London. This is one of the most expensive in the UK. May our children bury, not kill us.
No doubt, Ekweremadu’s ignoble fate reminds me of Lord Denning, who was once stated in the case of Gouriet v. Union of Post Office Workers & Ors (1977) 3 All ER 70; (1978) AC 435: “Be you ever so high, yet the law is above you.” Ekweremadu was lucky even escaping life imprisonment, as the Judge reckoned with the 51 page pleas for allocutus by World leaders, civil societies, parliamentarians, International Human Rights Commission (IHRC), ECOWAS, ethnic Nationalities, Nigeria’s own highly lettered former Head of State and President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, Ph.D. That was why he got a term less than the life imprisonment provided for by section 5(1) of the Modern Slavery Act, 2015. The offence is more of strict liability. Although it is legal to donate kidney, but such donations must not be paid for. However, evidence showed that Ekweremadu had doled out a whopping £7000 through Dr Obeta, with a new life in Britain promised David. This was the crux of the matter. Judge Jeremy noted all the pleas. But, he was obviously not impressed. He appeared to have seen the pleas as aggravating, rather than extenuating. They demonstrated oppression of the poor by the rich.
Prosecution Counsel Hugh Davies KC, had argued that the behavior of Ekweremadu showed entitlement, dishonesty and hypocrisy. Ekweremedu on the other hand said he was a victim of a scam. Doctor Obeta said the boy was not offered any reward; rather, he acted altruistically. Lies! Ekweremadu’s wife was not privy to the conspiracy hence the lesser service.
Many have wondered aloud (and I tend to agree), how come the English was so quick to enforce the Modern Slave Act, when they never punished those English men who enslaved Africans and Nigerians for centuries. May our children bury, but not kill us.
WAS JUDGE JEREMY JOHNSON TOO HARSH?
In arriving at his decision, Judge Johnson gave reasons and made copious references to sentencing guidelines, mitigating and aggravating factors, including the very real impact on the victim’s life and his well considered rejection of any compensation in respect of which an order could have been made. David had said he did not want money from the bad people. Judge Johnson repeatedly referred to David’s age and ethnicity as factors that put him at greater risk if the donation had gone ahead successfully.
Although Ekweremadu’s sentence was 9 years, 6 months, he is to serve 2/3 before he can be released on licence. His wife was given 4 years 6 months out of which she must serve half before she can be released on licence. The doctor got full 10 years the mitigating and aggravating factors were considered to be at par. May our children bury, not kill us.
THE SOCIETY AND IMPACT OF ORGAN TRAFICKING ON THE VICTIMS
An alarming scarcity of human organs available for transplantation has reached a critical level in our new world. This is marked by a stark contrast between the ever-increasing demand for organ transplants and the severely limited supply. This has led to a very disturbing trend of the escalation of abuses within the organ transplant system. Notably, as noted by WHO-ONT (Global Observation on Donation And Transplantation), one of the most egregious consequences of this scarcity is the illicit practice of trafficking in persons for the unlawful acquisition of organs. There is an acute global shortage of human organs for transplantation. To accurately determine the extent of trafficking for organ removal has remained a difficult task. The Global Reports on Trafficking in Persons by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) indicates that between 2010 and 2018, approximately 300 cases of individuals being trafficked for organ removal were identified across various countries. Unlike other types of human trafficking, this particular phenomenon is relatively uncommon.
This is attributed primarily to the exceptional level of medical expertise which necessary to carry out organ removal procedures. It is crucial to acknowledge that the official statistics on the prevalence of this phenomenon do not fully capture its true scale. The complexities involved in detecting and prosecuting this crime contribute to the under representation of its magnitude. One notable challenge is the occurrence of organ trafficking within legitimate medical facilities, making it difficult to identify and expose. The failure to detect and report such cases, along with the geographical dispersion of trafficking in persons for organ removal, are increasingly worrisome for the global community.
Public discourse often confuses organ trafficking with trafficking in persons for organ removal. This leads to their interchangeable use in the media and even within the medical field. But, they are distinct crimes governed by separate, yet complementary legal frameworks.
Despite the legal distinctions, as noted by Human Rights Council, (Report of the Special Rapporteur on sale and sexual Exploitation of children, including Child prostitution, pornography and other child sexual Abuse Material), complications may arise in correctly adjudicating cases where an organ is illicitly obtained from a living organ donor, as both legal frameworks can potentially apply. Such challenges in proper legal handling could have grave consequences for the victims involved.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that discussions surrounding trafficking in persons for organ removal extend beyond organs alone. Related topics such as surrogacy and trafficking in tissues and cells, have also been part of this larger discourse. May our children bury, not kill us.
THE LEGAL FRAMEWORKS TO ADDRESS TRAFFICKING FOR ORGAN REMOVAL
The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (Trafficking in Persons Protocol) criminalizes the act of trafficking individuals for the purpose of organ removal. Article 3 of the protocol explicitly identifies “organ removal” as a form of exploitation that should be prohibited by national laws. The offence, as defined by the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, involves:
- Recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring, or receiving individuals;
- Using threats, force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or providing/receiving payments or benefits to obtain consent from a person in control of another person.
At the regional level, Article 4(a) of the Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the European Union (EU) Directive 36/2011 of the European Parliament, and of the Council on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting its Victims, and the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children acknowledge the significance of organ removal as a form of exploitation related to trafficking.
WHAT EKWEREMADU WAS PROSECUTED FOR
In the case of Ekweremadu, he was prosecuted for organ trafficking under the domestic legislation of the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act of 2015. This legislation, which is relatively recent, is believed to have been applied for the first time to the Ekweremadus, in a case of this nature.
The UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015, frowns at human trafficking under which organ harvesting falls and is punishable with maximum sentence of life imprisonment upon conviction. May our children bury, not kill us.
CHARTING THE WAY FORWARD: SOME RECOMMENDATIONS
The following recommendations should be taken as general guidance; and not necessary specific to the Ekweremadus case.
Preventing organ trafficking is a complex and sensitive issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. It involves various stakeholders, including governments, international organizations, healthcare professionals, law enforcement agencies, faith-based organizations and civil society organizations. Because I do not wail and moan over spilled milk, or dwell in damage assessment alone, I always write and proffer solutions. So, here are some recommendations on the way forward, to prevent organ trafficking, and save others from the fate of the Ekweremadus.
- Strengthen Legislative Frameworks: Governments should enact and enforce comprehensive legislation that specifically addresses organ trafficking. These laws should criminalize all aspects of organ trafficking, including recruitment, transportation, transplantation, and the involvement of medical and health professionals. Penalties should be severe enough to act as a deterrence.
- International Cooperation: Encourage international cooperation and collaboration among countries to combat organ trafficking. This includes sharing information, intelligence, and best practices, as well as coordinating efforts to investigate and prosecute offenders across borders.
- Raising Public Awareness: Conducting public awareness campaigns to educate people about the dangers and ethical implications of organ trafficking. Focus on informing potential organ donors and recipients about legal and ethical alternatives, emphasizing the importance of voluntary, altruistic donation.
- Ethical Organ Transplantation Practices: Promote ethical practices in organ transplantation; ensuring transparency, accountability, and adherence to established guidelines and protocols. Encourage healthcare professionals and transplant centre to adopt stringent standards and regularly evaluate their practices.
- Donor Protection: Establish mechanisms to protect living organ donors, such as ensuring informed consent, providing comprehensive pre and post operative care, and prohibiting the coercion or exploitation of vulnerable individuals.
- Strengthen Regulation and Oversight: Strengthen oversight and regulation of organ transplantation by establishing independent regulatory bodies. These bodies should monitor transplant activities, enforce compliance, and investigate any suspected cases of organ trafficking.
- International Organ Exchange Programs: Encourage the development of international organ exchange programs to facilitate legal and ethical organ transplantation across borders. These programs should operate within a transparent and regulated framework to prevent abuse and exploitation.
- Collaboration with Law Enforcement agencies: Foster collaboration between healthcare professionals and law enforcement agencies to identify and investigate cases of organ trafficking. Enhance training programs for law enforcement personnel to enable them to effectively detect and combat organ trafficking networks.
- Support for Victim Rehabilitation: Provide support and rehabilitation services for victims of organ trafficking, including medical care, psychological counseling, and social reintegration programs. Collaborate with NGOs and support organizations to ensure comprehensive care for victims.
- Research and Data Collection: Promote research and data collection on organ trafficking to better understand its scope, trends, and underlying causes. This information can help policymakers develop evidence-based strategies and interventions.
- May our children bury, not kill us.
The Ekweremadu organ trafficking saga serves as a harrowing reminder of the cruel and exploitative trade in human organs.
The sacrifice of a parent in the Ekweremadu case highlights the immense pressures and vulnerabilities that can be exploited by those involved in illicit organ trade. It emphasizes the need for comprehensive efforts to alleviate poverty, improve healthcare systems, and create opportunities for socio-economic advancement, ultimately reducing the vulnerability of individuals and families to exploitation.
Ultimately, the Ekweremadu case should serve as a catalyst for addressing the underlying socio-economic factors that drive individuals to engage in organ trafficking. It calls for strengthened legal frameworks and international cooperation to combat organ trafficking effectively, advocating for the protection of human rights, and supporting initiatives that combat organ trafficking. It is only through concerted international efforts that we can hope to put an end to the horrific practice of organ trafficking and provide justice for the victims involved. May our children bury, not kill us.
Some Nigerians had taken to the media, asking President Buhari to beg for pardon from King Charles III, during his attendance at the coronation of the king.
I was surprised. Would you have seriously thought Buhari would ask for clemency for the Ekweremadus? Would ethnic and political considerations not have stopped this, with Ekweremadu being an Igbo?, Or, was it really expected that nepotic Buhari, who had granted clemency to convicts of more grievous offences in Nigeria, would ask for same for Ekweremadu?, I do not know. Or, do you? May our children bury, not kill us.
Modern Slavery is a heinous international crime, it is treated with seriousness considering its negative effect and far-reaching impact on human rights and the brutal history of slavery. The Ekweremadus only tried to save their daughter’s life. But, that may not have necessarily been done in the most desperate manner he did, resulting in public disgrace. While the law has taken its course, there remains a window for the Ekweremadus to appeal, get royal pardon; or make a plea bargain. The entire adventure tells us this: ignorantia juris non excusat (ignorance of the law is not an excuse). We must, as parents, always try to consider the pros and cons of any intended action before embarking on same on behalf of our children. Considering the influence and reach of Ike Ekweremadu, many wondered whether if he publicly asked, he would not have got over 20 Nigerians stepping forward to donate kidney to his daughter. I do not know. Or, do you? Finally, may our children bury, not kill us.
•Prof. Ozekhome, SAN, CON, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D., LL.D, D.Litt is a constitutional lawyer and human rights activist.