A Nigerian politician and his wife have been arrested and charged by British police after being accused of plotting to harvest the organs of a child in the UK. Both defendants have been remanded in police custody.
60-year-old district senator and lawyer, Ike Ekweremadu, has been charged along with his wife, 55-year-old Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, with conspiracy to arrange and/or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation.
London's Metropolitan Police confirmed the charge following an investigation carried out by the force's Specialist Crime Team.
The Met said that both suspects have been remanded in custody and will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates Court on Thursday.
The investigation started in May 2022, when authorities were alerted to potential offences under the modern slavery legislation.
Ike Ekweremadu is one of the most well-connected and senior politicians in Nigeria. He is a member of the main opposition group, the People's Democratic Party, and has served as a senator for the south-eastern Enugu State since 2003.
Mr Ekweremadu is a longtime ally of Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria's former president, and served as the Deputy President of the Nigeria Senate, one of the most powerful positions in the country, from 2007 to 2019.
Ike Ekweremadu was also made a visiting professor at the University of Lincoln in May this year. When accepting the appointment, Ekweremadu, said he was "proud to be associated with the academic pedigree and core concept of the University of Lincoln and pledged to go to work in earnest".
He added: "A call to render any service in the educational sector is a call to serve humanity and I am always highly appreciative of it."
London's Metropolitan Police said that the age and sex of the child is currently unknown and that they are being safeguarded while the force works closely with partners to provide support.
Organ harvesting involves removing parts of the victim's body, usually for commercial gain.
Between five and ten percent of global organ transplants are performed using illegally sourced organs according to the World Health Organization.
The Met police said in a statement: "A woman and a man were charged today with conspiring to arrange the travel of a child into the UK in order to harvest organs.
"The charges follow an investigation by the Metropolitan Police's Specialist Crime Team. "Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55, of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
"Ike Ekweremadu, 60, of Nigeria is charged with conspiracy to arrange/facilitate the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting."
A spokesperson for the University of Lincoln said: "Visiting Professors are often, as is in this case, non-resident at the University, unpaid, and advisory. "We are deeply concerned about the nature of these allegations but as this is an active police investigation, we cannot comment further at this stage."