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Monday 11 December 2017

They came for them in middle of night as they slept

Breda Heffernan

IN the end they came for them in the middle of the night as they were sleeping.

Pamela Izevbekhai's six-year deportation battle, for so long played out in the glare of the public spotlight, ended in the dark of night.

At 1.30am, Ms Izevbekhai was arrested at Globe House asylum centre in Sligo and she, and her two daughters, Naomi (10) and Jemima (9), were informed they would be leaving Ireland on a flight that morning.

There was barely time to gather themselves and their belongings before they were driven to Dublin Airport and put on a 6am flight to Amsterdam.

Yesterday afternoon they boarded a flight to Lagos in Nigeria.

"She was very distraught, the children as well. This has been a harrowing experience for them," Ms Izevbekhai's solicitor Matthew Ezeani told the Irish Independent.

"She was taken by surprise by this. It happened in the middle of the night. She had little time to prepare herself or the children for travelling," he added.

Despite the sense of inevitability surrounding the case, there was much sympathy for Naomi and Jemima, who have left the only home they have ever known.

Former mayor of Sligo, Cllr Veronica Cawley, who held a civic reception for Ms Izevbekhai in 2008, admitted there were mixed feelings in the town following the revelations the Nigerian used fake documents in her court challenges. "Some people are still very supportive of her, other people have a different kind of viewpoint," she admitted.

"But I do feel sorry for the girls. They have been here since 2004. Until yesterday this was the only place they have ever known as home."


At the function, Ms Izevbekhai wept as she said Elizabeth, the child she claimed to have lost through female genital mutilation, was a guardian angel for Naomi and Jemima.

However, Cllr Cawley said that, in the end, the legal case "didn't hold up". "After the European decision, (deportation) was inevitable, all the legal channels had been exhausted. The decision is made and we have to respect that."

Ms Izevbekhai became a media sensation after she went into hiding to avoid deportation for several weeks in 2005.

But the goodwill toward her unravelled when it emerged that a document Ms Izevbekhai said was from an obstetrician in Lagos detailing the birth and death of Elizabeth was a forgery.

There was no register of Elizabeth's death in Lagos and the doctor who delivered Naomi told gardai he believed she was Ms Izevbekhai's first child.

Rosanna Flynn, a member of Residents Against Racism, said in recent weeks her friend knew her deportation was imminent and did not want any media attention.

"She went back to the hostel (Globe House) about a week ago. She didn't want any publicity.

"Nobody has heard from her. I hope we will hear she's all right because we are very concerned for her safety and the girls," she added.

Irish Independent

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