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Monday, November 9, 2009

Nigerian woman claims she can prove daughter's death

November 7, 2009 By Irish Times

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 court yesterday after her lawyers withdrew after receiving a threatening anonymous postcard, Ms Izevbekhai said her first child Elizabeth died in July 1994 and she had obtained evidence from another doctor certifying this.

Her case was before the court yesterday after an application by 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 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 to this. He said she 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 government office in Nigeria, from which the original death certificate (used in Ms Izevbekhai’s asylum application) was allegedly issued, and found no such certificate on file there.

Ms Izevbekhai, in a replying affidavit, rejected the claim that she gave birth to her first child in 2000. The death certificate she originally supplied was obtained through a friend and she did not accept it was forged, 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 postmortem. She had since obtained a death certificate from Dr Ori. She said her credibility was being affected because Nigeria’s chief justice and the Nigerian ambassador said she was causing embarrassment to their country.