Mar 31, 2009

About the Times' latest hachet job

On the last post I wrote about Pamela Izevbekhai, a troll posted the following

Basically Pamela Izevbekhai made it all up. I eagerly await your retraction and apology for misleading your readers.

Fuckwit was not even classy enough to use a pseudonym. Coward.

Anyway back to the point. This weekend allegations, declarations et al have come out about what a lying bitch Izevbekhai is. Most of the discourse is around her alleged lies and it is generally polite enough for people to tut-tut around talking about immigrants are cheating the system. The newspapers don't come out and basically say that we have taken back our Céad Míle Fáilte and that the only foreigners welcome here are whites from other rich countries, but it is the undercurrent in all the discussions. The facade is dropped on bulletin boards where racism and petty self interest dominate the conversation. Ireland has become a nation of spineless right wing bigots. It's disgusting. We are now officially exempt for playing the "Irish" card.

This rag revealed the shocking "truth"

Izevbekhai said she only discovered the documents were fake on Friday when her husband, who is living in Nigeria, admitted they were bogus.

He said he had been forced to obtain fake documents because Dr Joseph Unokanjo, an obstetrician, had refused to supply papers and medical reports without a substantial payment. Unokanjo has denied this.

The documents, including a death certificate and “statements” from Izevbekhai’s family doctor in Nigeria, were obtained from a counterfeiter.

“They were sent to me by my husband after I arrived in Ireland,” she said. “If I had known the documents were fake, I would have done things differently. I wouldn’t have put myself or the children through this kind of thing. I now regret taking the case. I am so sorry.”

Firstly, to this

Nigeria's minister for justice has offered to testify in an Irish court against Nigerian citizens who claim political asylum on the grounds they will be forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) if deported.

I call bullshit. There are plenty of child rights and human rights organisations that have research to show that between 20 to 45% of female children are subjected to FGC (region dependent). There are no clear statistics but various sources cite one third of cases are fatal and an additional 40% have serious long term consequences. There is a real threat to Izevbekhai's two daughters

Then there is the "they only want to sponge of the Irish welfare system" argument, which fails on two counts. The first is difficulty of travel to Ireland with two daughters.

She says she paid criminals to smuggle her to Ireland via the Netherlands. Immigration officials suspect that she travelled to Britain on a holiday visa before coming to Dublin to claim political asylum.

aka human traffickers who literally make money out of other people's misery. Parents are not in the habit of exposing their children to exploitation and physical danger without a damn good reason.

The other aspect is the financial component. According the UN Human Rights Office

Gender inequalities play a key role in the persistent poverty levels of women in Nigeria. Statistics show that the incidence of poverty using the rate of US $1 per day increased from 28.1 percent in 1980 to 46.3 percent in 1985 and declined to 42.7 percent in 1992 but increased again to 65.6 percent in 1996. The incidence increased to 69.2 percent in 1997. The 2004 report by the National Planning Commission indicates that poverty has decreased to 54.4 percent. Nigeria fares very poorly in all development indices. The average annual percentage growth of GDP in Nigeria from 1990 -2000 was 2.4. This is very poor. Poverty in Nigeria is in the midst of plenty. Although there has been steady economic growth in the last few years, the benefits have not been evenly distributed amongst men and women.

Nigeria is a developing country. Most women are poor - very poor. Pamela Izevbekhai was not poor. She is in fact the Nigerian equivalent of middle class D4 (roysh).

She worked hard from the time she left her Irish convent school, until she left her position in a major bank to flee to Ireland. Leaving behind her pretty comfortable and spacious home, complete with house keeper, as well as her beloved husband Tony and her only son Adrian. She speaks to both all the time on the phone, yet has not been allowed to see them for the three years she has been seeking protection in Ireland.

Izevbekhai had a job, a stable family and a nice house. She left her home, husband and son to save her daughters. This is not a decision that anyone takes lightly. She is not here to "sponge" off our welfare system. She is protecting her daughters.

And now we come to what Fuckwit was referring too, the "shocking" newspaper article that revealed her documentation was forged. All I can say is "no shit Sherlock". I've actually lived in a developing country much like Nigeria. It can take six months to get a piece of paper. It takes less that $1 to bribe a policeman. You can a driving licence, a diploma or a gun in the fucking market for fuck sake. If you think our bureaucracy is bad, go to a developing country and queue up for three damn days to get a stamp on a piece of paper and take at least a $20 in your pocket. This is the reality. Also it would be damn easy to get an official to testify that genuine papers are forged - just slip hir a $20. The FFers and their brown envelops have nothing on developing world bureaucracy in a supposedly democratic state that is actually run by crooked natural resource pillagers.

Philip Boucher Hayes, head of RTÉ's Radio Investigative Unit, was on the Gerry Ryan show on 2FM on Friday because of his investigation of the case.

Philip Boucher-Hayes, the RTE broadcaster who conducted the radio interview, said he had no doubt that he spoke to an obstetrician. “I got the number independently and was put through by the switchboard to Dr Unokanjo,” he said.

Asked whether he has any doubts about the identity of the interviewee, he said: “It wasn’t a face-to-face interview so you can never say 100%. But when I rang back after the interview one of the hospital staff warned me not to call again as the doctor had been visited by a Nigerian army captain.

“I have no doubt the dread hand of the Nigerian authorities intervened in this.”

Boucher-Hayes has sworn an affidavit supporting Izevbekhai’s claims for her legal case. The Department of Justice may be forced to grant Izevbekhai permission to remain in Ireland anyway as she could face danger if deported to Nigeria, whose government has taken a dim view of the attention her case has attracted.

... Unokanjo denied yesterday that he was ever interviewed by RTE Radio, and gardai are satisfied that the “Nigerian doctor” who featured in the RTE interviews is not him.

“Nobody has interviewed me. I never gave an interview to a radio or television organisation in Dublin, Ireland, or outside Nigeria,” Unokanjo said. He refused to answer any further questions unless a fee of €5,000 was paid.

Wow, who to believe? The gardaí who travelled to Lagos and believed the politicial who told they that there is no FGC in Nigeria or the journalist with the experience in gathering information in difficult places like Kosovo, Israel, Iran and Iraq.

The UN have this to say about human rights in Nigeria.

In Nigeria, extra judicial killings are still perpetrated by security officials with impunity. There are reports of many unexplained disappearances of persons held in police detention. The police authorities hardly take disciplinary action against officers who perpetrate these crimes and this has helped to perpetuate it. Apart from instances such as the celebrated Apo six extrajudicial- killings in Abuja which was initially refuted by the police, cases of extra-judicial, summary and arbitrary executions are hardly documented, investigated and prosecuted by the police.

... The consequence has been increasing use of torture by law enforcement agents as official means of investigation of offences. Most cases in court are prosecuted by the police based on 'confessions' obtained under circumstances of torture from accused persons. The only thing the court can do in such circumstances is to conduct a 'trial within a trial' to find out whether such evidence was obtained by torture to enable it decide whether to admit or reject the evidence. However, incidents of torture also take place at the domestic sphere, leading to life threatening outcomes against vulnerable groups such as women, children and the physically challenged. Such inhuman and degrading treatments are as a result of obnoxious cultural practices that are still practiced to date in society.

... In discharging th[eir] responsibilities the police very often, infringe on the right to liberty of persons, by arresting and detaining them longer than is allowed by law. In many cases, suspects are detained under inhuman conditions at poorly maintained detention facilities.

... At independence, successive Nigerian governments, (especially during the long military era) adopted the old colonial style of repressing the press. This frequently involved severe measures such as the arbitrary closure of newspaper houses as well as unlawful arrests and detention of media practitioners. There are cases of unresolved murder of prominent journalists, while some were forced to go on exile by governments who felt they were a threat to them.

... Competition for allocation of political and scarce national economic resources has often led to violent clashes. Most communal conflicts always occur along ethnic and religious fault -lines. Sometimes, there is a convergence of ethnicity and religion.

... The government, except in few cases, does not prosecute perpetrators of communal violence, though sometimes, it pays compensation to victims. Where security officers fall victims of communal clashes, such security agencies often carry out revenge killings against the community (ies) where such incidents occur, as happened in Odi (Bayelsa State) and Zaki-Biam (Benue State)during the last administration. Erring officers who perpetrate revenge killings and destruction are hardly investigated or prosecuted

Oh yeah that's a government who could intimidate a doctor into silence. That's a government that can assure the gardaí that there is no FGC in Nigeria. That's a government that murders civilians. That's the government Times hack believes. That's the government that the Irish government believe.

I don't know what her situation is but I do know that Nigeria has a repressive dictatorial government. I know that FGC is widespread in Nigeria. I know that Izevbekhai left a comfortable middle class life to come to a country where she knew no one and was subjected to daily racism. I am inclined to believe her


Gerald said...

Excellent article in the Irish Times today which is written by a Nigerian . Hopefully Pamela Izevbekhai, will have the sense after tomorrow in court and just return to Nigeria and get on with her life

Here are some opinions offered by the writer from the article
"But one thing is certain, if it is true that Izevbekhai’s daughter died in Nigeria in 1994 she should, with or without documents, be able to prove it. Nigeria, it needs to be stressed, is not as backward as the western media are trying to paint it. Izevbekhai, one would argue, should be able to point to where the baby was buried.
And on female circumcision:
I accept that female circumcision is an archaic tradition and no woman is benefited by it. So let us discuss it rationally and find the most effective way to enlighten those who still practise it. My view is that you cannot change a people’s traditional beliefs just like that, even if they are labelled barbaric. There are lots of atrocious things that westerners do that we Africans do not call “barbaric”. Therefore I think it is high time westerners stopped behaving as if they were the superior race as regards the issue of female circumcision.

Mór Rígan said...

Gerald, I'm not here to point out the fallacies in that Irish Times article. Now do you have an opinion or just a quote fetish?