Following the conviction of Ike Ekweremadu, former deputy senate president, for organ trafficking in the United Kingdom, a debate has ensued regarding the sentence he will be handed.
His wife, Beatrice, and Obinna Obeta, a doctor involved in the case, were also found guilty when the verdict was delivered on Thursday.
The jury held that they conspired to bring the 21-year-old at the centre of the matter to London to exploit him for his kidney.
The verdict is the first of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 of the UK.
The presiding judge has fixed May 5 to issue sentencing on the convicts.
Modern Slavery Act 2015
Chapter 30 of the MSA 2015 criminalises a range of offences.
In Section 1, slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour are criminalised while Section 2 focuses specifically on human trafficking.
Section 2 states that “a person commits an offence if the person arranges or facilitates the travel of another person (“V”) with a view to V being exploited”.
According to the same section, it is irrelevant whether the victim is an adult or a child and also inconsequential whether consent was given or not.
Exploitation, as further explained in the third section, includes sexual exploitation and the removal of organs.
The fourth section talks about the intent to commit trafficking-related offences.
“A person commits an offence under this section if the person commits any offence with the intention of committing an offence under section 2 (including an offence committed by aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring an offence under that section),” it reads.
According to Section 5(1)of the MSA 2015, “a person guilty of an offence under Section 1 or 2 is liable (a)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life; (b)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine or both”.
However, there is a likelihood that the Ekweremadus may not get the minimum 12 months option attached to summary convictions.
Summary convictions are typically given to defendants convicted of summary offences.
Summary offences are less serious cases where the defendant is not usually entitled to a trial by jury. They are disposed of in magistrate courts.
Although the Ekweremadus were first arraigned at the Uxbridge magistrates court, the case was later moved to the central criminal court in London where the trial spanned six weeks.
10-YEAR SENTENCE PERHAPS
Section 5(2) provides that a person guilty of an offence under Section 4 (stated above) is liable “on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years”.
This implies that if the Ekweremadus are found guilty of “intent to commit human trafficking” — seeing as the kidney transplant did not eventually happen — they will be handed a sentence not exceeding 10 years.