Hospital secretary helped after Nigerian politician’s failed bid to remove daughter’s kidney, court says
An interpreter has been implicated in a failed attempt to convince doctors to agree to an illegal kidney transplant for the daughter of a wealthy Nigerian politician, a court has heard.
Evelyn ‘Ebere’ Agbasonu reportedly asked for £1,500 to secure Sonia Ekweremadu’s £80,000 private kidney transplant in February 2022 at the Royal Free Hospital.
Prosecutors allege the procedure was illegal because the donor was a Lagos street vendor who was not motivated by altruism and had no family connection with the 25-year-old recipient.
The Old Bailey was told it was a “transactional” deal, with the 21-year-old man being paid up to £7,000 for the removal of his body part and the promise of opportunities in the UK.
Ms Ekweremadu stands trial alongside her father Ike, 60, then Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate, her mother Beatrice, 56, and medical “middleman” Dr. Obinna Obeta.
Ms Agbasonu was a staff member at Hampstead Hospital, where she worked as a medical secretary.
The jury heard that at an initial meeting on February 24 between Dr. Peter Dupont and the donor from Nigeria stepped in to interpret Igbo.
The counselor had concluded that the young man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was not a suitable candidate and seemed relieved that the transplant would not go ahead.
Prosecutor Hugh Davies KC said it was “somewhat extraordinary” that Ms Agbasonu appeared to have agreed to rig a second meeting to help the Ekweremadu family, according to messages from others.
Mr Ekweremadu’s medically trained brother Diwe allegedly sent the interpreter’s advice to Sonia Ekweremadu to prove a clear family link with the donor.
He reportedly said: “Ebere said it would be easier to establish that his mother and your mother are sisters. If we extend it to grandmother and grandmother, the relationship will be too distant.”
Ms Ekweremadu reportedly replied, “OK, that’s fine.”
Diwe then reportedly laid out the financial arrangement to her father, saying: “I met the Igbo interpreter. She agreed to work with us.
“She will be involved in coaching the boy and providing the appropriate interpretation during his counseling and interviews.
“She insisted I give her £1,500. I think they just position themselves to exploit people.”
He reportedly continued, “We had a meeting with her today so I introduced her to Chinoso [Sonia] And [the donor].
“That’s what she advised [the donor] comes to the Chinoso hospital on Tuesday and Thursday [Sonia] has her dialysis.”
Mr Davies suggested the messages showed the opposite of altruistic organ donation.
On the 11th of March. The donor attended a meeting with a surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital and the interpreter, the court heard.
Afterwards, Diwe is said to have sent a message to Ms Ekweremadu’s father: “I spoke to him [the interpreter]. She said the boy did better today but he still shows so much shyness.
“She covered for him and added the words as much as possible.
“The surgeon will talk to Dr. Speak to Dupont and they will contact us. They will continue to work on the boy’s confidence. Ebere and Obinna.”
Mr Davies informed the jury that the surgeon Dr. Dupont agreed that the donor was unsuitable and Ms Ekweremadu was informed of the decision on March 29.
The jury heard that Dr. Obeta received a kidney transplant at the Royal Free Hospital in 2021 with a donor who also pretended to be his cousin.
Mr Davies told jurors an affidavit was the only proof the two men were related.
The jury heard that Dr. Obeta was trained at medical school under Diwe Ekweremadu, who remains in Nigeria and is not on trial.
It is alleged that after the transplant failed in London, the conspirators took steps to arrange a transplant with another donor in Turkey.
On May 5 last year, the original donor presented himself at Staines police station in south-west London and said he had been smuggled out of Nigeria to give him a kidney and had been on foot for the past three days.
In June last year, the Ekweremadus were arrested after Ike and Beatrice arrived at Heathrow Airport from Turkey.
In a statement, Beatrice said a donor had been found by a “third party”.
Ike, Beatrice and Sonia Ekweremadu, who have an address in Willesden Green, north-west London, and Dr. Obeta, 50, from Southwark, south London, deny conspiring to arrange or facilitate the young man’s journey to exploit August 1, 2021 and May 5, 2022.
The process goes on.