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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 6, 2009 @ 10:37 am

    Pamela Izevbekhai and the Liberal Conscience

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    The saga of Pamela Izevbekhai is like the plot of a 19th-century, three-volume novel. It has created something like turmoil in sectors of the media and the legal system. There’s been nothing like it for a long time.


    Pamela Izevbekhai outside the Supreme Court. Photograph: Garrett White/Collins 

    Ms Izevbekhai is appealing a deportation order from Ireland on the basis that, if she returned to Nigeria, her daughters would be subject to female genital mutilation. She says another daughter, Elizabeth, died in 1993 at the age of 17 months, possibly from  profuse bleeding as a result of FGM.

    Except that now there is evidence that Elizabeth never existed. The documents purporting to chronicle her brief period on this earth are acknowledged to be forgeries.

    Worse still, the “doctor” who gave interviews on two separate radio stations, Ocean FM and RTE, was an impostor – actually two different impostors! Meanwhile the real doctor whose name was used in the documentation says Elizabeth never existed but he wants €5,000 before he will discuss the matter with the media. Ms Izevbekhai’s lawyers have sought to withdraw from the case because of the forged documents. The State has spent something like €500,000 on the matter already but Ms Izevbekhai  herself is getting a mere €19.10 per week.

    The Nigerian Ambassador insisted on RTE last night there was no FGM problem in her country. But documentation from her government says it is quite widespread.

    There are a lot of ramifications and implications in this case. It has clearly been traumatic for many people involved. It will in all probability have consequences for other asylum-seekers. Ali Bracken, writing in yesterday’s Sunday Tribune, indicates some of the possible legal consequences for Ms Izevbekhai herself, which are extremely serious. The likelihood of Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern reversing the deportation order are somewhere between nothing and sweet damn-all.

    An enterprising journo needs to track down Ms Izevbekhai’s husband’s family and ask them if they really would insist on her other two daughters undergoing FGM should the girls return to Nigeria.

    A lot of people clearly feel they have been made fools of and, unfortunately, this may mean they will be reluctant to get involved in similar cases in the future.

    • Harry says:


      Those “other” Nigerians you speak of are most likely ones who benefitted from the Irish-Born Child scam that former minister McDowell thankfully closed off. Otherwise entire parts of the country would resemble downtown Lagos and the queues at some dole offices would be majority Nigerian.

    • Deaglán says:

      Bit rough that. You wouldn’t be stereotyping by any chance?

    • Alex Thompstoy says:

      Thanks Harry.

      Can you confirm that your understanding is that this “Irish-Born Child scam” allowed (“other”) women who (strategically or otherwise) had babies while going through the asylum application process to stay here?

      And does it follow that the men were married or officially associated in some way with these women?

      I was asking about Africans in general by the way, and I’m not satisfied that this scheme accounts for all of them present here (though I concede that it may for a lot of them).

      I’d still like to know the difference between Pamela and other Africans who’ve been granted asylum seeker status here, though I suppose verification of having escaped conflict may have been the deciding factor for a lot of the latter group (with the so-called Irish-Born Child thing accounting for some as well, perhaps).

      Another question: Do any Africans come here as economic migrants (as opposed to asylum seekers) hoping to attain the right to stay, and are some of these, if such a group exists, indeed successful?

      Deaglawn (can’t do fadas now),

      I understood your reasoning behind Commagate, but just felt that the sentence flowed properly and that the meaning was comprehendible without it.

      I was going to christen myself “Alex Thompstoy” for this comment, but I’m genuinely interested in finding things out now and need, I suppose, to be taken more seriously in order to maximise my ability to do so.

      This side-spat has ended. Duller now.

    • Alex Thompson says:

      Sorry. I actually meant to change ‘name’ back to ‘Thompson’ in that last comment! I’m all serious now, I promise. I’m a red-faced, panting, stock-checking, gout-ridden Merc-driver, I swear.

    • Harry says:

      Not really. If IBC legistlation hadnt been around, if our asylum system wasnt a total joke, if it wasn’t so incredibly easy for Nigerians to get citizenship and claim welfare as IBC scammers do you seriously think there would be a fraction of the amount of them here? Or that Pamela Izevbekhai would have chosen Ireland??

    • Deaglán says:

      The people you call “Nigerians”, how do you know where they are from? With respect, you sound like the cliche image of a taxi-driver. Your case against Pamela Izevbekhai is unproven.

    • Shane says:

      Actually it is her case to stay in Ireland which is completely unproven for a multitude of reasons, including the fact that If she was genuinely fleeing for the safety of her daughter she would not have cherry picked her way across the continent of Africa and across Europe to begin with. Either she is here for the benefits or because she thinks we are a particularly soft touch on bogus asylum/ welfare seekers.

      Falsified documents should be the final nail in the coffin of this miserable saga. Only the terminally politically correct and simple-minded would have believed any of her story – and only the certifiable would continue to do so at this stage.

      Ireland is facing the bleakest economic outlook since the founding of the State and we can no longer afford fluffy-headed political correctness from our media and politicians when dealing with the cold hard issue of massive immigration into Ireland and its impact (including bogus welfare/asylum seekers).

      Considering its overall economic impact this issue has to be addressed – finally. There are many reasons why this situation needs to be resolved and it’s a shame that the economy is the grounds on which it finally will – if our politicians and media had been pro-active on this issue for the last few years we could have cut the numbers of bogus immigrants and scammers down to a more manageable level by now and we would not be a continuing target in the cyber-cafés of Nigeria. The public finances would also be in a better position, not to mention our welfare queues (Social welfare and Health Service Executive).

    • Kynos says:

      Siobhan, just said what I think, no need to thank, but thanks anyway. Alex, I’ve little doubt in my gut that there is a risk that the lady’s children could be forced to undergo FGM. The W(orld)H(ealth)O(rg) says that about 92 million girls in Africa age 10 years and above are estimated to have undergone this barbarous practice. The WHO adds that about three million girls in africa are at risk of it annually.Ref: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/
      In Nigeria specifically, according to the WHO, “the practice of FGM is widespread … and varies from one state and cultural setting to another. In some cultures it is carried out at infancy or childhood as a “rite of passage…(i)n some others it is at first pregnancy and in some at death. The statistics seem incredible, as high as 50.6% in 2003? Deaglán would you check this and if you agree (see page 5 here: http://www.who.int/countries/nga/reports/female_genital_mutilation.pdf) let me know? Thanks

    • Kynos says:

      Sara’s comment on circumcision of both sexes being barbarous I’d certainly agree 100% with. If you are an adult you may freely choose to have yourself voluntarily mutilated for whatever reason you please, religious included. But I would classify it as child abuse were it done to a single infant in Ireland if I were able. The State has no business interfering with religion nor vice versa. The State has a primary duty of care to see to the wellbeing of Her smallest citizens regardless of any secondary religious consideration. We see this in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses whose reliance on Leviticus being literally interpreted means that some members may not wish their children to receive life-saving transfusions, in which case the Irish courts will (rightly) take a hand in ensuring the child’s best interests are preserved. I’d see the exact same standard should be applied to all forms of child circumcision in this State immediately and they should all be banned forthwith. I don’t like banning but when it comes to kids…

    • Kynos says:

      OK well so you didn’t agree but if we can’t accept those WHO else’s data can we? To return these children would be refoulement. That would be illegal under the UN-CaT and the Criminal Justice act 2000. But sure when did that ever stop anything.

    • Deaglán says:

      Like you, but without your natural eloquence, I have to say FGM leaves me somewhere between bafflement and distaste. Others have the same reaction to male circumcision. But each case has to be judged on its merits and the Pamela Izevbekhai case isn’t going so well, is it?

    • Kynos says:

      No (and thank you for that kind remark) I suppose it isn’t. But then again it has nothing to do with Ms Izevbekhai and her jeopardised children, not really. Rather it has everything to do with ensuring that others don’t try to steal ‘orses from the Commons.

    • Kynos says:

      Refoulement is a crumbling and ill-defined protection conceived in the wake of WWII when the general attitude towards refugees was much more protective and benign than it is in this War On Terror world we now live in. There’s a clear case to replace the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Convention against Torture, not least because they are serially abused by the US, Israel, Australia and EU states like Ireland and the UK. Absent that happening, I suppose it would be Solomon-like to allow Ms Izevhekhai’s children to stay in Ireland, as wards of court, until such time as they attain adulthood, and can protect themselves. Their mother would have to return to Nigeria but could be granted visas to visit her children twice a year. It’s a horrible situation to be at a remove from your children but if her concern for their safety is genuine and motivated by real fear of FGM – as I believe it is – surely it would be the lesser of two evils?

    • Deaglán says:

      Your solution is a bit daft. Separating children of that age from their mother is potentially disastrous. I suspect it might be unconstitutional to split them up. All stay or all go, there has to be a clearcut decision.

    • bassey says:

      I believe and strongly affirm that the long arm of the law should bring to book this shameless Nigerian. As a Nigerian she has brought more ills on geniune asylum-seekers who intend to legitimately live in Ireland. Even though I change my nationality today I can’t change my color nor my roots.This issue makes a parody of our struggle to redeem our image as Nigerians.

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