Nigeria’s former deputy senate president Ike Ekweremadu and his wife appeared in a London court on Tuesday ahead of their trial for organ harvesting, but his accused daughter was unable to attend as she is in hospital.
Ekweremadu, 60, appeared at the Old Bailey court wearing a grey tracksuit top, speaking only to say “Yes, miss” when asked to confirm his name.
He is accused along with his wife Beatrice, daughter Sonia and a doctor of bringing a 21-year-old man from Nigeria to have his kidney removed.
Prosecutors said the defendants allegedly planned to have a kidney removed from the man so that it could be given to Sonia.
She was unable to attend court as she is currently in hospital with an unspecified condition.
Her defence team has also submitted a psychological report, claiming she is not fit to stand trial.
The court adjourned soon after convening in order for prosecutors to read the report.
The accuser is said to have raised the alarm after refusing to consent to the procedure, following preliminary tests at a north London hospital.
Charges were brought after the man went to the police. The Ekweremadus were arrested in June last year at London’s Heathrow airport after flying into the UK.
Another man, Obinna Obeta, a 50-year-old doctor from south London, was arrested at a later date.
The trial has been brought forward from a planned date in May.
Ekweremadu is a senator for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Enugu State in southeast Nigeria.
The Ekweremadus and the doctor are accused of conspiracy to arrange the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, under UK legislation on modern slavery.
The offence is alleged to have taken place between August 2021 and May 2022.
Ekweremadu had his bail plea rejected over concerns he might flee Britain.
Obeta was also detained. Beatrice and Sonia Ekweremadu are on conditional bail.
Beatrice, dressed all in black, sat next to her husband in the dock during the brief session on Tuesday morning.
Supporters and protesters both gathered around the London court ahead of Tuesday’s hearing.
“I mean, this case is unbelievable,” said protester Citizen Gbola.
“Where else in the world would you have a deputy senate president — who is still a serving senator, he’s still getting his regular wage?”