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Organ trafficking: NAPTIP arraigns Alliance Hospital, medical director, others

The Medical Director of Alliance Hospital, Christopher Otabor and three others, including members of his staff, were on Monday, docked at the FCT High Court, Zuba, Abuja for alleged organ harvesting.

The defendants are Emmaunel Muyiwa Olorunlaye, Chikaodili Ugochukwu, Dr Christopher Otabor, Dr. Aremu Abayomi and Alliance Hospital and Services Limited.

They are being arraigned on an 11-count charge under Section 20 (2) a and (3) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015 and punishable under section 20 (2)(b).

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), alleged that the accused committed the offences between February and May 2023, at Dr Otabor’s hospital, Alliance Hospital and Services Ltd, Abuja.

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NAPTIP’s prosecuting counsel and Director ofLegal and Prosecution, Hassan Tahir alleged that Emmanuel Olorunlaye procured 17 year old Adebayo Salaudeen Saliman, 17 year old Yahaya Musa as well as 25 year old Aminu Yahuza for the removal of their kidneys at Alliance Hospital and Services Ltd in Area 11, Garki, Abuja.

He said Chikaodili Ugochukwu, an Administrative Secretary at the hospital, assisted in the removal of the kidneys of the victims in the said hospital while further alleging that the hospital MD, Christopher Otabor accommodated the victims at the said hospital.

Dr. Aremu Abayomi, a surgeon at Alliance Hospital and Service Ltd is accused of performing the operations.

After the charge sheet was read, the accused pleaded not guilty.

Mr Richard Adeboju, the defence counsel for Olorunlaye, moved a motion for bail pursuant to Section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), seeking for bail pending on the hearing.

Adeboju’s motion filed on March 13 was supported with an 11 paragraphs affidavit with a written address and urged the court to adopt the same as his oral submission and grant the application.

Afam Osigwe, SAN, the defence counsel for other defendants, filed a bail application dated March 13 with 35 paragraphs affidavit, seeking an order of the court admitting the defendants to bail.

“Otabor is on bail earlier granted by Justice Hamza Muazu and I urged the court to grant the same. The defendants are responsible persons who run businesses and families and have been diligently honouring NAPTIP’s invitation,” Osigwe said.

He urged the court to adopt the same administrative bail conditions that were granted to the defendants by NAPTIP. The prosecution however did not oppose the bail application but applied for accelerated hearing on the matter.

He cited Section 165 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) saying that the court may impose its own conditions and does not have to be the same conditions for bail given by NAPTIP.

Delivering a ruling, Justice Kezziah Ogbonnaya held that judicially, administrative bail fizzles out upon arraignment and cannot determine the court’s bail.

Justice Ogbonnaya however granted the defendants bail, on the condition that they report daily at NAPTIP headquarters and sign an attendance register provided by the court starting from March 19, except the day for the hearing in court.

She also ordered the defendants to deposit their travel documents to the court’s registrar and warned the defendants to adhere to the order or risk their bail being revoked. The judge subsequently adjourned the matter to May 6 to 9 and 13 to 16, for accelerated hearings.

Briefing journalists after the arraignment, NAPTIP counsel and Director of Legal and Prosecution, Hassan Tahir, expressed confidence in getting justice.

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