Deportation battle costs €350,000 in legal fees
Final bill to taxpayer over Nigerian mother's case could hit €500,000
THE Irish taxpayer has footed a legal bill for more than €350,000 to defend its deportation of controversial asylum seeker Pamela Izevbekhai and her two daughters last July.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter, in a letter to Fianna Fail's Finance spokesman Michael McGrath that has been seen by the Sunday Independent, confirmed that as a result of Ms Izevbekhai's longstanding fight against deportation, the taxpayer was hit for €353,328 between 2005 and 2011.
In his letter, Mr Shatter said that Ms Izevbekhai brought a number of court cases in Ireland, as well as to the European Court of Human Rights.
"This involved in excess of 20 court appearances. I understand that a sum of €353,328 was incurred by the State in relation to defending the above-mentioned legal cases before courts in this State," Mr Shatter said.
However, the final cost could exceed €500,000 as the burden of defending the case before the European court has not yet been calculated.
Responding to the revelations, Fianna Fail said it was incredible that so much taxpayers' money could be sunk into defending just one asylum case.
Its justice spokesman, Dara Calleary, said: "It is extraordinary that so much of public money could be tied up into one particular case. There needs to be a review."
Ms Izevbekhai, who fought a six-year battle against the deportation of herself and her daughters Naomi (10) and Jemima (9), was arrested on July 18 last year in Sligo, where they were living.
The family were put on a commercial flight from Dublin to Amsterdam, then transferred to another flight, which took them to Lagos in Nigeria.
Ms Izevbekhai had claimed that her daughters faced the threat of female genital mutilation if they were returned to Nigeria.
The asylum case has been one of the most high-profile and controversial. Her deportation was originally ordered in September 2005 but was the subject of several legal challenges, culminating in a decision by the Supreme Court to reject her claims last July.
She then appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. However, that appeal was also rejected.
In 2009, it was disclosed that members of the Garda's National Immigration Bureau obtained affidavits showing that her claim that an obstetrician in Lagos delivered her baby Elizabeth in February 1993 and treated her before she died from complications after female circumcision was false.
Obstetrician Joseph Unokanjo admitted that an affidavit sworn by him was a forgery. He said he delivered Ms Izevbekhai's daughter Naomi in 2000 and that this was her first child.