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Friday, May 8, 2015

British doctor keeps slave for 24 years

A Nigerian doctor and his wife are facing court under modern anti-slavery legislation accused of keeping a slave in their home for 24 years.  

It's alleged that Dr Emmanuel Edet and his wife Antan, enslaved Ofonmbuk Sunday Inuk against his will from the age of 13 and that he lived a life of misery under their control.

Inuk's parents died when he was 12 and as the eldest of eight children, he jumped at the chance to live with the Edets in Lagos, Nigeria, who paid him a meagre wage and promised him an education.

The family moved to Israel and then to the UK when Inuk was 13.  The doctor and his wife smuggled him into the country by changing his name to Edet and adding him to their passports.

But once in the UK, the doctor stole his passport, insisted on being called 'master' and beat him until he was completely cowed and compliant.

Ealing Hospital in west London, where the accused couple worked

Prosecutor Roger Smart said Inuk slept on the kitchen floor on a dirty foam mattress thrown out by the hospital and had to sweep the house clean because the vacuum cleaner was too noisy.  He had to wash the clothes by hand because the Edets claimed it was too expensive to use the washing machine.

He always ate by himself, kept his few possessions in a single bag and was not allowed to sit in the front room or go upstairs.

The Prosecutor said "The couple, to all intents and purposes owned him, controlling nearly every aspect of his life down to his very name. Over a period in excess of 20 years, they have deprived him of his identity, his rights to education and freedom of movement and the money he should have received.  He has no means of returning to Nigeria and was entirely dependent on them.  At one stage, he tried to undertake a college course in computer skills but the Edets stopped him."

When he did not meet their exact standards, they hit him and punched him, he recalls this particularly clearly in relation to his trying to apply for college.

"It's hard to believe this can be true, everyone assumed the man was their grown-up son who simply never left home" a neighbour said.  "I would often say hello to him outside the house, he certainly never said anything to me about being held against his will."

When the couple went back to Nigeria in 2014 for Christmas, Inuk heard about a similar case of someone being held against their will on the radio and decided to go to Scotland Yard.

He told them he was a 'house boy' - he cooked, cleaned, washed, ironed and looked after the garden. "My role is to stay in the house, I do everything in the house" he said.

Dr Edet 60 is an obstetrician and gynaecologist and his wife is an NHS senior nurse.

The trial continues.