I was still setting up in the meeting room for my scheduled consultation meeting with lady G[1]’ when she was ushered in. As I got up to shake her, she quickly went on her knees to greet me (as is the custom in some parts of Nigeria). My effort to prevent her came a bit late, in fact she would not rise from her bent knee. As if that was not enough. While still kneeling, she bust out in tears.

With a calm voice, I said please rise and tell me your story. In between tears she muttered a few words, what I could make out of it is Sir, you are my last hope. I have been to several law firms and consultants including those who came to the shelter where I and my children are living. They all said they could not help me. They refused to take my case.

Help you with what, what case I questioned. With my refugee application she responded. That is OK, we can assist with your refugee application, but you must seat down and tell me your story. With those calming words she sat down, surrounded by her 3 boys[2] we delved into her story. After she was done telling her story, I could see clearly why others  refused to take her matter. According to her some told her point blank that she is a liar.

As I pondered through what I just heard,  and as I was about to speak, she blurted out Sir, I am not lying all of these happened. The abuse, the assault, the threats and attack by kidnappers please believe me. For a moment my voice failed me. I could not say a word, I sat back on the seat and leaned on the  back rest.  My eye fell on the 2-year-old son, with his little neck and bright eyes looking straight into  my face as if to say please, don’t say no to my mother.

I took on  Lady G’s application for refugee mindful that as a counsel my duty is not to adjudicate but to minister in the temple of justice and ensure that everyone no matter their story and the circumstance of their birth get a fair hearing.

Lady G eventually had her day at the hearing on Tuesday the 3rd of January 2020. As the Panel member began to give his decision Lady G could not stay still, she bent over the table. The calming voice of the panel member urging her to stay calm and seat up  was totally ignored. As the member traced her case, he was quick to observed that the matter was indeed a difficult one. As it could not be placed square as a refugee application pursuant to s.96. He further observed the elements of prosecution and domestic violence as well as other issues that raised poignant questions in his mind.

The panel member set out the list of questions which beclouded his mind and proceeded to seek clarity and demanded answers to them from the client. In the Panel members words, all my questions and doubt have been clarified thus bringing clarity and restoring credibility to the applicant. The member affirmed that Lady G indeed exhausted the options available to her within the internal flight areas and further agreed with her that the relocation to her parents’ home endangered her life and theirs. All the while Lady G remained bent over the table fearing the worst.

When the Panel member finally made his decision grating her Refugee application tears of joy flowed freely as Lady G knelt sobbing  with tears of joy in thanksgiving. As for me, this case reminds me once again why I love my job. I was happy for lady G and her 3 sons. A successful application any day is a good day for all of us at Thompson Immigration.

[1] Not her real name.

[2] Age between 5-2