'Mutilation fear' at centre of long asylum battle
NIGERIAN mother Pamela Izevbekhai's fight to be allowed to stay here because she said she feared her two daughters would be subjected to female genital mutilation if she was deported has become a headline story over the past two years.
She came here at the end of January 2005 and immediately claimed asylum status. Ms Izevbekhai said she arrived in Ireland from Nigeria via the Netherlands, and had been waived through without a visa by the immigration authorities at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.
But immigration officials say there is no evidence she was in the Netherlands and suggest her version of her movements would be highly unlikely. Her application was fully processed and she was informed in November 2005 that she was to be deported. Her case has been fought through the courts since she was arrested in early January 2006. Officials disclosed that she applied for a UK visa in September 2003 and was issued with a multi-visit visa for six months.
She and her husband, Tony, subsequently applied for a further UK visa in mid-2004 and received a two-year permit in June of that year. Although that visa did not expire until the middle of 2006, she arrived here in January 2005 and claimed she had never used the UK visas.
Her husband was later arrested in Dundalk as he travelled from Belfast to Dublin and was returned to the UK, where the authorities sent him back to Nigeria. However, he was granted another six-month visa to visit his wife in June 2006.
Mrs Izevbekhai's fight against deportation has been fought mainly on the basis that she alleged her 18-month old daughter, Elizabeth, died after undergoing genital mutilation and she feared her other two daughters could suffer the same fate if the family returned to Nigeria.
Her fight has won a lot of support, particularly in Sligo, where she has been living. Her appeal to be allowed to remain here was rejected by the High Court and the Supreme Court. But Justice Minister Dermot Ahern agreed to put a stay on the order until a further appeal to the European Court of Human Rights had been determined.