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Ex-President, Obasanjo Urges Nigerian Government To Make Laws To Curb Organ Trafficking, Harvesting

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Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Tuesday urged the present government of President Bola Tinubu to make laws that would help to check organ harvesting and trafficking in the country.

The former president made this demand in a statement issued by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi which also demanded legislative support in terms of a new bill to support people with kidney disease.

According to the statement, Obasanjo made this call at the 36th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the National Association of Nephrology with the theme: “Optimising Dialysis Therapy To Prolong Survival,” held at the main Auditorium of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Obasanjo was quoted to have said that “there is an urgent need for legislative support in terms of a new bill to support affected persons.

“Organ trafficking is also an emerging issue in our environment and I want to plead with agencies concerned to help in examining relevant laws, especially with regards to cadaveric donations taking cognisance of our peculiar cultural and societal idiosyncrasies and also laws guiding organs to be harvested from living donors.”

He commended the association for its work on advocacy, screening, enlightenment, and periodic collaborations with a view to reducing the prevalence of the disease, especially among youth and children.

The former President said “From available reports, 1 out of 7, that is, about 15% of adult Nigerians have kidney failure which cannot be reversed and is life-threatening if left untreated.

“Organ trafficking is also an emerging issue in our environment and I want to plead with agencies concerned to help in examining relevant laws, especially with regards to cadaveric donations taking cognisance of our peculiar cultural and societal idiosyncrasies and also laws guiding organs to be harvested from living donors.”

He commended the association for its work on advocacy, screening, enlightenment, and periodic collaborations with a view to reducing the prevalence of the disease, especially among youth and children.

“I have also been informed that the prevalence of kidney failure in Africa is higher than anywhere else in the world as an average African is 4 times more likely to develop kidney problems than a Caucasian or Mediterranean race.” 

Obasanjo also mentioned the causes of kidney failure to include hypertension, diabetes, kidney infections, genetics, habitual consumption of undefined herbal medications, and chronic analgesic abuse among others.

“I wish to acknowledge the role of NHIS in providing limited support for only six dialysis sessions, but I want to suggest a need to consider increasing the carrying capacity substantially as obtained in South Africa and Sudan,” he said.

The United Kingdom court sentenced former Deputy Senate President of Nigeria, Ike Ekweremadu, to nine years and eight months in prison for an organ trafficking plot.

The court also sentenced his wife, Beatrice, to four years six months while the medical doctor who acted as a ‘middleman’ in the plot, Dr Obinna Obeta, was sentenced to 10 years and his medical licence was also suspended.

In March 2023, the court found that the defendants  criminally conspired to bring a 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney.

The young man was said to have been falsely presented as Sonia’s cousin in a failed bid to persuade doctors to carry out an £80,000 private procedure at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

Likewise, in September 2023, it was reported that the Plateau State Police Command arrested two medical doctors in connection with the alleged harvesting of vital human organs by a suspected fake doctor, Noah Kekere.

Kekere, a suspected fake doctor, was arrested after he was accused of harvesting a woman’s kidney during surgery.

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