Slave Case Trial Of UK-Based Nigerian Couple Ends Abruptly
THE ongoing trial of the Nigerian couple accused of holding another Nigerian (39-year old Ofonime Sunday Inuk) they adopted in Calabar in December 1988 in slavery for 24 years in the United Kingdom came to an abrupt end at the Harrow Crown Court yesterday morning, when Judge Arran discharged the 12-man jury around 11.43am.
A three-week re-trial has been set to begin on Monday, October 26 before the same Judge.
Immediately after the new date and other details were confirmed, Arran looked in the direction of the dock and addressed gynaecologist and obstetrician, Dr. Emmanuel Edet, 60, and his senior nursing sister wife, Antan, 58, formally notifying them of this.
“Emmanuel and Anton Edet, your new trial date is October 26,” he said.
Although The Guardian was present in the courtroom before the jury was called in for the day, from the moment the trial resumed at 11am and heard the legal arguments that culminated in Judge Arran’s decision to halt proceedings, there was a court restriction that this should not be made public until after the end of the re-trial.
Prior to addressing the Edets, Arran had done the same to the jurors, telling them: “I have been listening to legal arguments and considering what I’ve heard. I have decided to retire and discharge you at this stage. It may be disappointing and frustrating for some of you, and I do understand that.”
Arran continued: “I discharge you from further service with much regret,” and “if you find it frustrating, I apologise.”
He then charged them not to discuss the case without discretion because it has not only generated much publicity, it is still live.
“I have one request of you, be careful of what you say about this case,” because “ it has generated a lot of publicity,” the Judge said, just before the jury filed out at 11.45.
The decision to terminate the proceedings obviously came from the blues, because just a day earlier, Thursday, two expert witnesses, Nigeria-based lawyer, Dr. Chima Umezuruike and Dr. Elizabeth Hales, for the defence and prosecutor, respectively, battled each other on the difference between statutory and customary adoption of children in Nigeria.
Umezuruike, who gave his expert witness via video link from Nigeria, argued that customary adoption is what is prevalent in Nigeria, and as long as representatives of both the adoptive and adoptee families are present, it is valid.
Hales, on her part, based her testimony on other African countries and the papers of Nigerian academics.