A British Judge, Graham Arran of London Harrow Crown Court yesterday found a Nigerian couple, Dr Emmanuel Edet and his wife Antan guilty of modern day slavery and sentenced them to six years imprisonment each. The couple were found guilty of keeping their houseboy, Ofonime Sunday Etuk as a slave for almost a quarter of a century.
Edet an NHS doctor, and his wife Antan, a nurse, moved from Nigeria to Britain in 1989. They took along with them 13-year-old Ofonime Sunday Inuk whom they told officials was their son. Prosecutors say he worked as an unpaid “houseboy” for 24 years, cooking, cleaning, gardening and looking after the couple’s two sons.
The couple were accused of stripping Ofonime Inuk of his passport and making him work up to 17 hours a day. The Nigerian orphan was left to bring up their two sons as they travelled across Britain working for a series of NHS trusts.
Inuk told a jury that Emmanuel Edet demanded to be called ‘master’ as he beat his victim and subjected him to a ‘life of misery’. He said he had to sleep on the floor and was barred from using many rooms except to clean them.
He described how he was scared of the couple after realising they would not pay him or send him to school. In a soft voice, he said he was not ‘free’, adding: ‘I could only take the children to the park, that was the only time I could take them out.’
In a police interview, he said he was known as a ‘house boy’, adding: ‘My role is to stay in the house … I always do everything in the house, sir … clean, cook, wash car, the gardening, ironing … or maybe like a slave. That’s called slavery.’ The jury was told Mr Inuk escaped after hearing about another case in the media while the couple travelled to Nigeria for Christmas. He contacted a charity which tipped off police who were stunned to find him alone in their £450,000 four-bedroom terrace home in Perivale, monitored by a CCTV camera.
Inuk eventually contacted a charity after the couple went to Nigeria for Christmas 2013 and they were arrested three months later.
Sentencing the Edets on Monday at London’s Harrow Crown Court, Judge Graham Arran said their behavior robbed Inuk “of the opportunity of leading a normal life.” Dr Edet, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, and his wife are being prosecuted under modern anti-slavery legislation.