A Nigerian mother who allegedly tricked a Nigerian teen into flying to the United Kingdom to be her family’s slave under the pretence of a better life has claimed she was “part of the family.”
Job Centre worker Afolake Adeniji, 50, arranged for Iyabo Prosper to relocate to London from her home in Nigeria back in 2003, when she was just 13, Southwark Crown Court heard, London Mail reported. Promised a better life and free education, she agreed to come and live with Adeniji, first in Beckton, east London, and then Chelmsford, Essex.
But the teenager was forced to wake up at 5.30am each morning to take care of Adeniji’s children, spending the rest of her day completing menial household chores, and only eating once the rest of the family had been served, jurors heard last week.
When pressed by prosecutors yesterday about what went on inside her home, Adeniji denied all of the allegations put to her, claiming Ms Prosper, now 27, was “making up stories.” “She was completely submissive to the defendant and her family and any confidence she had was lost and ebbed away,” said Ms Prosper’s lawyer, Irshad Sheikh.
“Effectively that was what she was living the life of domestic servitude. It soon became apparent that Iyabo had become miserable, had become extremely depressed, was having negative thoughts and suicidal ideas.”
Adeniji denies arranging or facilitating the travel of a person to the UK for exploitation and inflicting GBH, “namely post-traumatic stress disorder” upon Iyabo. Giving evidence Adeniji told Southwark Crown Court that Ms Prosper was “making up all these stories.”
Mr Sheikh said: “What I suggest is that Iyabo was brought here to this country to ‘help’ you and do the chores that she has mentioned.” “That is not correct,” Adeniji replied, before the prosecutor followed up: “And that is what she did, I would suggest.” Adeniji answered: “I do not need her to help me. Everything was already in place before she arrived.”
She explained to jurors how she got to know Iyabo through her older brother, who worked at the home of Adeniji’s parents. Adeniji refused Mr Sheikh’s suggestion that he too was a “houseboy”, instead describing him as “like a son to my parents.”
“He was part of the extended family,” she added. Adeniji said Iyabo came to live “as part of my family” after her arrival from Nigeria. She said the teenager had her own bedroom and woke up “whenever she wants.”
Mr Sheikh asked: “So, she didn’t get into the routine of waking up at about 5.30am? She didn’t get into any routine like that at all?” Adeniji replied: “Iyabo is making up all these stories. It is not correct.” Adeniji described all household chores being completed on Saturdays with all family members chipping in to help.
“My husband is an early riser, he will have hoovered the stairs and cleaned the sitting room,” she said. “By the time we woke up, whatever was left, washing the bathroom it could be me, Iyabo, it could be anybody, whatever was left we just took it because whatever needs to be done we just did it.”
Following her arrest in October 2014, Adeniji blasted the accusations as “untrue”, instead claiming that Ms Prosper was “part of a loving family” and “given financial and emotional support.” Describing the time Ms Prosper eventually moved out, she added: “There was no fight. There was nothing.
“It was amicable when she left and she was coming back as she wished, not to help me.” She added: “I didn’t need anybody to help me do chores and look after the children. All I did was just to help Iyabo.” Adeniji, of no fixed address but previously of Chelmsford, Essex, denies arranging or facilitating the travel to the UK of a person with a view to exploitation and inflicting GBH. The trial continues.
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