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IRELAND: Supreme Court Hears Izevbekhai Case

Nigerian mother Pamela Izevbekhai has told the Supreme Court a sworn statement from a doctor asserting she never had a child who died as a result of complications from female genital mutilation (FGM) is untrue. She claims she has a certificate from another doctor to prove the child’s death.

Representing herself in the Supreme Court today after her fourth set of lawyers withdrew over what they described as a threatening anonymous postcard, Ms Izevbekhai said her first child Elizabeth died in July 1994 and she has obtained evidence from another doctor certifying this.

Her case was before the court today following an application from the State to have her entire appeal against the deportation of herself and her two daughters dismissed as an abuse of court process.

This application was adjourned but she unsuccessfully opposed the State’s application to admit additional affidavits containing new evidence disputing her case.

She said the affidavits were not true, that they affected her credibility and that she had no knowledge that a previous affidavit and death certificate submitted on her behalf were forged.

Those affidavits include one by Dr Joseph Unakajo, a Nigerian gynaecologist, whose name was used to support a death certificate and FGM allegations concerning Elizabeth during earlier hearings of Ms Izevbekhai’s asylum application.

In the affidavit, sworn after Irish officials travelled to Nigeria to investigate the case further, Dr Unakajo said Ms Izevbekhai’s first child was born in 2000 and she did not have a child prior this this. He said she had tried to get him to issue a certificate in relation to Elizabeth but he refused.

In an affidavit from Irish embassy official, Cormac McHenry, he said he went last February to a local government office in Nigeria, from which the original death certificate (used in Ms Izevbekhai’s asylum application) had allegedly issued, and found no such certificate on file in that office.

Ms Izevbekhai, in a replying affidavit, said she “entirely rejected” the doctor’s claim that she gave birth to her first child in 2000. The death certificate which she originally supplied was obtained through a friend and she did not accept it was forged because she did not know, she said.

Addressing the court, Ms Izevbekhai said Dr Unakajo was there at the death of her child while a Dr E Ori later carried out a post mortem. She had since obtained a death certificate from this second doctor through her brother in Nigeria.

She said she believed Dr Unakajo was acting under influence and she did not even know if this was the same doctor she knew. She said her credbility was being seriously affected especially because the chief justice of Nigeria and the Nigerian ambassador had said she was causing embarrassment to their country.

Earlier the court heard an anonymous postcard was sent to Ms Izevbekhai’s solicitors telling them to “back off” and claiming she was “the greatest con-artist ever”.

As a result solicitors Murphy McElligott from Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, asked that they be allowed to withdraw from representing Ms Izevbekhai.

The court initially refused the application to allow them to withdraw. However, after they lodged a formal application saying Ms Izevbekhai wanted to represent herself because she did not want anybody to be under threat, they were permitted to withdraw.

Sharon McElligott of Murphy McElligotts solicitors, said in an affidavit an anonymous postcard received at their office on October 23rd last had been taken extremely seriously and the gardai were investigating.

In the handwritten postcard, the writer states: “Take my advice, back off now, Pamela is the greatest con artist ever.” The writer says Ms Izevbekhai’s husband was deported from England and Italy and she was “making a fool out of the Irish people and costing tax to Irish people.” The writer added: “I know, I am Nigerian, she manipulates everybody.”

Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, presiding, said threats were made all the time to lawyers and they had to overcome them. After accepting the formal application to allow Ms Izevbekhai represent herself, he told counsel for Murphy McElligott it was “a pity that had not been done in the first instance instead of a solicitor making an application to come off record on the basis of an anonymous postcard”.

SOURCE: Irish Times

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DATE: 12/11/2009

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