Sunday 25 June 2017

The UK: What can she do? How justice was served in this Human Trafficking case

Empty promises to exploit
The matter I write about today should be a salutary lesson to anyone who has power, influence, authority, means or privilege and is tempted to use that as a means to exploit those over whom we can wield it.
Iyabo Olatunji was a 29-year old secretary working for a local government authority in Nigeria when she was persuaded by the Adewakuns to leave her job in Nigeria for to the UK to serve as a nanny to their two young children.
Iyabo as a young teenager was a house-girl servant to an earlier generation Adewakun family in Nigeria, this would indicate she was already known to them and there was some trust already established to persuade her to seek a new fortune in the UK.
Doctor a contract to nurse abuse
Mr. Abimbola Adewakun is a nurse and his wife, Ayodeji Adewakun is a medical doctor, through a contract of employment, they engaged Iyabo Olatunji for a salary of £450 a month working for 6 days a week. She came to replace a Hungarian au-pair who left a week after Iyabo Olatunji arrived in the UK.
Whilst the impression of bettering the life of Iyabo Olatunji was what persuaded her to leave Nigeria, the reality of her life in the UK from February 2007 to June 2009 was anything but. [Court News UK]
By May 2009, Iyabo Olatunji had only received four payments totalling £350 and when she asked for proper remuneration, she was physically abused. She worked 18-hour days, was not allowed to use the modern conveniences including the washing machine, but had to wash clothes by hand. The Adewakuns were cruel, terrible, nasty and horrible employers. [Daily Mail]
With the help of a family friend, with nothing to go to, Iyabo Olatunji escaped the intolerable employ of the Adewakuns in June 2009.
Slow but sure justice
Sadly, it took ages for the wheels of justice to start turning, during which time Iyabo Olatunji’s status in the UK would have been under threat apart from other issues that might have resulted from her escaping from slavery.
Her case was then referred to the Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit of the Metropolitan Police by the Migrant Legal Action and in January 2015 both Abimbola and Ayodeji Adewakun were interviewed by the police. They were charged with trafficking for the purpose of exploitation in November 2015 and appeared in court in May 2017 where they were both found guilty of the charges.
Abimbola and Ayodeji were sentenced to 9 months and 6 months imprisonment respectively, they are to pay £10,000 in compensation to Iyabo Olatunji as well as £2,520 in court costs. [Metropolitan Police]
She is a person
The Adewakuns were people of privilege and means who thought they were untouchable and unreproachable by virtue of Ayodeji’s professional standing as a doctor and Abimbola’s secured status in the UK. In their minds, Iyabo Olatunji was a nonentity, an insignificant person, a house-girl servant from a Nigerian backwater whose questionable status in the UK left her open to the exploitation they fully took advantage of.
It would never have occurred to them that Iyabo Olatunji was first a person, and every person deserves to be treated with respect, with dignity, and with fairness regardless of your status in the UK.
They had allowed their sense of entitlement to their own money which was being wasted on a Hungarian au-pair with rights to be beclouded with the possibility of exploiting a house-girl servant from Nigeria without any rights in the UK, living in the fear of deportation if she dared seek help from the authorities.
Don’t look away
How they must have miscalculated in their atrociously evil scheme. They are now being made to pay up and pay a very high price in reputation, status, and freedom. If they are anything but natural-born citizens of the United Kingdom, they risk being deported back to Nigeria in ignominy.
They belittled and contemned Iyabo Olatunji, treated her as dirt and this has now washed up into their faces.
However, there are lessons to be learnt from this unfortunate situation and they must be well learnt.
  • ·       Anyone residing in the UK has rights to be treated as a person, a human being, with respect and dignity – regardless of their status in the UK.
  • ·       If you bring a person over from the sub-continent to work for you, if you are not paying them a fair wage, you’re exploiting that person and the law frowns on every kind of exploitation.
  • ·       If you know anyone who has employed someone through trafficking for the purpose of exploitation, you have a duty to inform the authorities about what is going on, failing that, let the employer know it is wrong and they should immediately make amends, failing that, help the employee escape to seek help from the authorities.
  • ·       Do not let any abuse go unnoticed, unreported or unpunished.

They ruined their own lives
I take no joy in writing about Abimbola and Ayodeji Adewakun, but this kind of abuse happens a lot in Nigeria, that it has been imported into the UK is utterly reprehensible and must be excoriated in the strongest terms. Nowhere should people be exploited in this way, and if it takes going to jail in the UK to make that a lesson for everyone in the UK and abroad, that is a good thing.
I put this situation down to greed and entitlement, it need not have happened, the seriousness of the matter is indicative of the fact that Ayodeji Adewakun has been suspended from practicing as a medical doctor as has her husband Abimbola Adewakun from practicing as a nurse in the UK. As the attached graphic indicates.
Related Links
Take Action
Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) [National Crime Agency]
Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700
Modern slavery and human trafficking [National Crime Agency]
Migrant Legal Action [The Law Society]
53 Addington Square
020 3150 1470
Courtesy of the General Medical Council, searched on 25/07/2017

Courtesy of the Nursing & Midwifery Council, searched on 25/07/2017

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