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My Cousin Was Held as Slave for 24 Years, US-Based Cleric Tells UK Court

A United States based cleric on Wednesday corroborated claims that a Nigerian couple held a fellow citizen in a slave condition in the United Kingdom for 24 years.
Pastor Christopher Ekong, also a Nigerian, told the Harrow Crown Court in London that 39-year-old Ofonime Sunday Inuk (also known as Etiobong) was clearly in a state of slavery as far back as 2004 when he visited the family in the UK.
Ekong, a cousin of Etiobong, told the jurors at the resumed sitting on Wednesday that the couple once offered to pay the claimant £300 in 2004.
Giving evidence at the trial of the 60-year-old obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Emmanuel Edet and his 58-year-old senior nursing sister wife, Antan, the cleric told the court that Mrs Edet offered that amount during a  heated telephone conversation he had with her on a “settlement ” for Etiobong.
Ekong also told jurors that  when he got back to his base in Houston, Texas, Mrs Edet, in one of their telephone conversations, made the offer again, but this time , said she would pay N100,000 ‘settlement ‘ fee for the 15 years Etiobong had ‘served’ the family till then.
He also told the trial that Mrs Edet once told him Etiobong wanted to commit suicide , and that he should therefore pray for him.
Ekong,42, also told the court  that the Edets didn’t care about the welfare and future of Inuk, who, according to him, was known as Etiobong, by his family.
The US-based pastor also said that when he visited Etiobong in London in 2004, he was so concerned about his welfare and future that he took it upon himself to ask Mrs Edet why his cousin was not in school. Ekong stated further that Mrs Edet told him she wanted to send Etiobong back to Nigeria, because her two sons had finished university education and he was no longer needed.
Moreover, he also said he was told that Etiobong’s passport had gone missing in the process of having it renewed in Abuja. Continuing, he told how he “argued with her (Mrs Edet) when she told me Etiobong has to go back to Nigeria to learn handwork.”
Asked by the judge what Mrs Edet said after the argument, he replied: “She didn’t give me any answer.”
When Roger Smart, prosecuting, asked him what Mrs Edet said about Etiobong not attending school, he replied: “She didn’t give me any positive answer about the school.”
In his testimony, Ekong noted also that when he and one Mr Otoro got to the Edets house during the 2004 visit, Etiobong refused to sit on the chair in the living room, when asked to join them as they waited for Edet to come out of her bedroom. He told the court also that he noticed that his hand wasn’t looking good as a result of the household chores he was doing.
Leading his witness in his testimony, among others, Smart asked: “Did she say why she wanted Etiobong to go back to Nigeria?” He replied, “yes, she said her two sons were done with university and his service was no more needed.”
“Anything else discussed,” Smart asked the pastor, and he replied: “I asked her how much will you settle him with and how do we get his passport?”. He continued: “She said she will give £200 and I started screaming. She increased it to £300 , and I said, what are you talking about? £300 for 15 years?”
Later in his testimony, Ekong said he was in contact with the Edets and in one telephone conversation, “she offered him (Inuk) N100,000 to be paid into a Nigerian bank account, for settlement for spending 15 years with them.”
Asked how he responded, he said: “Angry. I told her it wasn’t enough to start a business.” But under cross -examination by the defence counsel for the couple, the Pastor not only became uncomfortable as he was made to admit a number of contradictions in his testimony and written statement to the police.
Counsel for Dr Edet took the lead, asking him whether he kept the two or three letters and email he said Etiobong wrote him to complain about the life of “misery” he was living. “Did you keep those letters?”
” No, no, no,” he was made to admit.
Asked when he last saw Etiobong, he said it was this year, since their last physical contact in 2005. “So, over 10 years since you last saw him?”
When asked if Etiobong told him he was enrolled on a typing course in 1993, he said ‘no.’
Did he tell you he had tutoring at home? No, he answered.
Did you hear that he sometimes worked for an agency and earned some money and was being given to him by Dr Edet?
Ekong again admitted ‘no.’
He was also asked, “did Etiobong tell you he had indefinite leave to remain in the UK as at 2004?”
Though Ekong said “yes,’ he added that Etiobong hadn’t seen the passport because they told him it was missing.
Emma Akuwudike also cross-examined the pastor, and when told Mrs Edet couldn’t have called him ,because ” you never gave your number to Mrs Edet,” during the 2004 visit, he said he couldn’t remember whether it was him or Etiobong who gave her the number.
 When things became rough, he told the court “I’m a pastor, I won’t come here to lie.”
When asked if Etiobong told him of the good time he had with the family while they were resident in Israel, “his response was that he was doing household chores there.”
 She also asked why he didn’t see the need to keep the two letters Etiobong wrote him, he replied, “I don’t know where I kept them.”

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