The Nigerian who has accused a Nigerian doctor and his wife of keeping him as a servant in the United Kingdom for 24 years was in fact adopted by the couple with the hope of giving him a better life, jurors were told at the Harrow Crown Court, London, on Monday.
The accuser was also said to have been regarded as one of the couple’s three children.
Ofonime Sunday Inuk, 39, was adopted by Dr. Emmanuel Edet, 60, and his wife, Antan, 58, at a cultural adoption ceremony in Calabar, Cross River State, in 1988, prior to the relocation of the Edet family first to Israel, then to the UK, the court heard.
Helen Valley, defending the gynaecologist and obstetrician husband also told the court that one of the couple’s two children didn’t even know Inuk was adopted until the boy was “either 9 or 10.”
Cross -examining him on Monday, the defence lawyers for the Edets also told the 12-man jury that not only was Inuk regarded as a son, like the Edets’ two biological sons, Emmanuel jr and Anthony, it was actually Inuk’s uncle who paved the way for the then teenager to be given the opportunity of a lifetime by going to live with the Edets in Calabar.
The court was also told that when Inuk lost his father at a young age, things became tough for his petty trader mother, who then had to provide for her eight children. Inuk’s uncle, ImehEkong, who worked for the Edets as a security man in Calabar then asked the couple to adopt him with the aim of giving him a better life and also lightening his mother’s burden. He wasn’t sent to work for them, lawyers for the Edets argued.
When asked: “Who told you (that) you were going to get paid working for the Edets?” Inuk said: “My mother.”
When MrsEdet’s lawyer, Emma Akuwudike , told the court that it was Ekong who brokered the adoption deal, which culminated in a “cultural adoption ceremony that took place at the Edets’ family house in Calabar, on December 2, 1988,” Inuk bluntly denied that any such thing took place.
“It never happened,” he said, giving his evidence behind a thick curtain that shielded him from where the Edets sat in the dock.
Continuing, Akuwudike told the court that not only were Inuk’s mum and Ekong and others in attendance at the said event, on that same date, Inuk took on the Edets name as his surname and was very much a part of the family from then on till the time they moved to Israel and later the UK. They all travelled to Israel from Nigeria on the same Edet family passport, the lawyers disclosed.
“His name was changed to Edet then, and the adoption procedure was about his welfare and not payment,” because he wasn’t adopted to come and work for them.
Inuk denied being regarded as part of the family. When reminded that Mrs. Edet had a nanny who looked after her two biological boys and that he was never a houseboy, “Inuk, who admitted that he referred to the couple as his parents, even in police statement he wrote last year, answered, “yes , I was ” a houseboy.”
Continuing with her cross-examination, Akuwudike asked Inuk: “Have you ever come across a houseboy before in Nigeria?”
His answer was “no.”
Asked if he had conversations about his future course and career with Dr. Edet, he said “never.”
When asked if Dr. Edet wanted him to get a career and to move out of the family house like his own biological sons had done, Inuk also said: “No, never.
When asked if Edet wanted him to get his own place and start his own life, the 39-year old said: “No, that’s not true.”
When told that when the family newly arrived in the UK, it was Mrs. Edet’s sister who looked after the children, Inuk also faulted that, claiming, “No, it was me.”
Akuwudike pressed further querying: “Was it not a cousin of his who suggested you should get some money from the Edet because he is a doctor and they are rich?”
Inuk paused a bit and said, “no, it wasn’t so.”
He was also asked: “Was it any member of your family that put the idea in your head?
“He replied, “No.”
She also posed another question: “When you left the house in December 2013, did you speak to anybody about money?” Although he said, “not really,” she argued that It was when his family needed assistance that he thought of getting money from the Edets.