Two senior NHS workers are suspected of secretly enslaving a man for a quarter of a century. Scotland Yard is investigating after a Nigerian man walked into a police station and claimed he was being held as a slave. Ofonime Sunday Edet, 38, said he has been held against his will since being trafficked to Britain in 1989, when he was just 13. Edet told officers he was enslaved by a couple in his native Nigeria who promised him work, lodging and an education so he could support his family.
Instead, he claims, he was lured to Britain and forced to undertake menial tasks for years for little or no pay while being threatened not to speak to anyone else. He was inspired to break free by the national outcry surrounding the release last October of a group of women held in a cult-like Maoist ‘slave house’. It is believed Mr Edet tried to break free several times before, including once as long as 10 years ago, only to be rebuffed by the authorities. After escaping he told police he contacted them before, as well as social services and an MP but was apparently told ‘there is nothing we can do’. Mr Edet’s two alleged captors, Dr Emmanuel Edet, 59, and his wife Antan Edet, 56, have been charged with holding a person in servitude and immigration offences. Dr Edet is a respected gynaecologist who worked for Surrey County Council and has written several academic works on child welfare. He is an expert on teenage pregnancy and who worked as a non-clinical adviser and is the author of guidelines followed by hundreds of health workers.
He claims he was promised an education and work in Europe and first travelled to Israel before arriving in Britain on New Year’s Eve 1989. By this time his name had been changed to include the surname Edet and he was added to the family passport. Dr Edet and his wife have two sons who police are yet to track down.
The family moved around Britain, staying in Caterham, Scarborough and the West Midlands before settling in their rented Perivale home in 2001.
Mr Edet claims he was stopped from going to school and banned from speaking to anyone as he spent up to 17 hours a day cooking and cleaning.
Investigators were told he feared he would be deported as an illegal immigrant if he spoke out and he had not money or other means of survival.
He finally contacted police shortly before Christmas after hearing a report about the Maoist cult on the radio.
The Edet family had travelled to Nigeria for a festive break and he was left alone, monitored by a CCTV camera.
A Met spokesman confirmed the couple have been charged with holding a person in slavery or servitude following an operation by its Human Trafficking Unit.
Dr Edet and his wife deny the offences. They face a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment and will appear at Harrow Crown Court later this month. DM