Investigation: Inside Abuja’s Kidney ‘Market’ Where The Rich Prey On The Poor
In this three-month long investigation, Daily Trust on Sunday went undercover to expose a shadow economy of illegal kidney trade in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory
In this three-month long investigation, Daily Trust on Sunday went undercover to expose a shadow economy of illegal kidney trade in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory. One million naira is the ‘official’ price for a kidney in the black-market. This investigation uncovered a cell of kidney agents that have been planted in satellite communities to target and lure young men from low economic backgrounds to sell their kidneys. The growing trend of kidney harvesting has, however, raised the question of why the Nigerian Medical Association, the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council, or even the Ministry of Health have not taken action against defaulting hospitals in this trade despite a series of media reports linking a hospital with illegal kidney transplant practices.
As the rising sun ushers a bright morning in the bustling Mararaba community, a satellite town that stretches along the Keffi-Abuja highway into Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, the streets spark of the usual density of street vendors, vehicles and motorcycles that provide a mixed recipe of chaos, lowlife and vigour.
Among its thousands of residents, many from low economic backgrounds, Mararaba boasts of an explosive youth population from a blend of Nigeria’s multi-cultural identities, who have migrated from various parts of the country for a chance to break the shackles of poverty.
Today, Mararaba in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, is a thriving community with many offshoots where everything is sold on its streets, including human kidneys.
It was here in Tudun Wada, an area of Mararaba that Aminu Yahuza contemplated suicide in June 2023. Aminu is a 25-year-old unemployed Nigerian with many financial troubles. To alleviate his troubles, he had approached his 23-year-old cousin, Abbas Yusuf to link him up with a kidney agent.
Having sold his kidney to a “South African” female patient in June 2022, Abbas, a resident of Mararaba quickly called his friend, Abdulrahman, who works as an agent to let him know there was a new ‘donor’ on the waiting list.
Soon, Aminu’s blood sample was requested, and a few days later, his kidney was harvested at a private hospital in Abuja and implanted into a waiting patient. With the payment of N1million for his kidney, Aminu Yahuza was a happy man until two of his friends duped him of half the money.
“I have lost my kidney, I have no money or job, and I no longer have the strength to do any strenuous work,” he told our reporter on a Thursday morning in September. “I just thought I should end it,” he said of his earlier suicidal thoughts.
Aminu’s cousin, Abbas had sold his kidney for N1.2m last year, the highest anyone among his peers had received for their kidney. He was lured by two of his friends, Abdulrahman and Habib; two brothers who have equally sold a kidney each. But beyond that, the two brothers are part of an unknown number of local kidney agents recruited by a Lagos-based kidney broker. Their job was to target and lure young boys and youths from low economic backgrounds to sell their kidneys.
In this investigation, Daily Trust on Sunday provides insight into a shadow economy of illegal kidney trade that may have thrived for many years out of public sight. This newspaper reveals that N1m is the ‘official’ price for a kidney in the black market, and Nigeria’s socio-economic challenges continue to push many young, able-bodied men to sell their kidneys without minding the long-term repercussions.
Alliance Hospital accused of harvesting kidneys of 3 minors
In August 2023, Daily Trust published how Oluwatobi Adedoyin, a 16-year-old son of a mechanic from Masaka in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State was lured by his friend, Yellow to sell his kidney. Oluwatobi was paid N1m in three installments, after which he was forced to flee Abuja.
Since then, the story has jolted a ring of kidney harvesting agents and a chain of victims that have come up to share their stories.
Ethically, organ donation is altruistic, based on the 2008 Istanbul declaration on Organ Trafficking and Tourism, which calls for the prohibition of organ commercialisation.
Except in Iran, it is illegal to buy and sell organs all over the world, especially when medical personnel or health centres connive with ready-buyers or recipients to exploit minors or people from low economic backgrounds.
Despite this, the World Health Organisation reveals that more than one kidney is traded on the black market every hour.
Findings by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that in November 2022, a video of a young man accusing Alliance Hospital in Abuja of harvesting his 17-year-old brother’s kidney went viral. In the video, the young man accused the hospital of lack of due diligence before the surgery. The management of the hospital had in a press conference denied the allegation, saying the ‘donor’ had signed a consent form and presented a court affidavit to show he was above 18 years.
But three months later, the hospital had in February 2023 harvested the kidney of Oluwatobi Adedoyin, another minor, and in June harvested that of Yahaya Musa, a 16-year-old despite the attention generated by the November 2022 video.
The Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Christopher Otabor insists that the hospital does not source donors for its patients but only ensures that donors are qualified and compatible with patients to donate. Dr Otabor had in August told this newspaper that the hospital took care of the legal angle, insinuating that ‘donors’ are expected to present affidavits and sign a consent form before the surgery.
Like Oluwatobi, whose kidney was harvested and implanted in one Egbuson Sampson, which the hospital claims is now deceased, Yahaya Musa was a minor when he was lured to sell his kidneys for N1m. A certificate of birth presented by the Bauchi Medical Board shows that he was born on September 9, 2007 in Bauchi State.
Narrating how a kidney agent convinced him to sell his kidney, the 16-year-old said, “He told me that there is a hospital that buys kidney and that he also sold his own at N1m.”
After the necessary blood screening, Yahaya’s kidney was surgically removed, and a few days later, he walked out of Alliance Hospital, N1m richer. He paid the agent 10 per cent of the money.
A drug prescription sheet written for his post-surgery care made available to this newspaper showed it was signed by Dr Aremu Abayomi Adeniran, a consultant urologist and the deputy director, Clinical Service at Alliance Hospital. The same doctor had performed the surgery on Oluwatobi in February 2023.
Describing the pains he now goes through, Yahaya said, “The hospital gave me some drugs after the operation, but I went back and told them the drugs had finished and I was feeling pains in my stomach. Dr Aremu said I should take paracetamol anytime I feel the pain.”
But more than five months after the surgery, Yahaya said the pain had not subsided.
His 58-year-old father, Musa Yahaya confirms this and said that as soon as he found out, he reported the incident at the Garki police station and was informed that the police had invited Dr Adeniran for questioning but later released him.