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                            TORONTO
 
MAN ACCUSED OF WITCHCRAFT WINS LAST MINUTE STAY OF DEPORTATION
 
A Toronto resident of Nigerian origin who faces accusations of practicing witchcraft has won a temporary stay of the plans by Canadian Immigration authorities to deport him from Canada on January 30, 2005. The Canadian Federal Court put brakes on the deportation efforts by Canadian officials, after the man's lawyer, Kingsley Jesuorobo, successfully convinced The Honourable Justice Campbell of the Federal Court that his client's case deserves a reassessment in light of news from Nigeria that persons accused of practicing witchcraft face terrible ordeals, including deaths.   Although Mr. Jesuorobo refused to release the man's name, citing "solicitor/client privilege" and fearing a "backlash of ostracism against my client from members of his community here in Canada who may still be holding on to the unfounded beliefs that witches and persons perceived to be witches are harmful and are therefore to be avoided and/or feared". Documents he made available show that the man was under an Immigration deportation order and was originally scheduled to be deported to Nigeria on January 30, 2005.
Nigeria and many African countries have gained notoriety for witch-killing incidents. In November 2004, Nigerian  newspapers reported that 27 persons accused of practicing witchcraft were murdered in Ozalla, Edo State of Nigeria, and senior police officers, including an Assistant Inspector General of Police and a former state administrator (governor) were implicated. The BBC News has also reported incidents such as the killing of persons perceived as witches from the north to the south of Nigeria. In one of its articles on the issue dated April 29, 1999, the BBC News reported that “[a]lthough Christianity is firmly rooted in the Delta, belief in witchcraft is also widespread. In Akassa, several women who were accused of being witches and casting evil spells on the community have been tortured and killed in recent weeks”.   
Mr. Jesuorobo succeeded despite facing stiff resistance from the Canadian government lawyers who opposed his application. Lawyer Marcel Larouche of Department of Justice had unsuccessfully argued before the court that Mr. Jesuorobo's application should be dismissed because Mr. Jesuorobo's client, who first entered Canada in 2001, had unsuccessfully tried and exhausted many avenues, including refugee claim, Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) ground, Spousal (marriage) Sponsorship and Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA).
However, the unrelenting Mr. Jesuorobo countered that since the last review of his client's case occurred in 2003, and since there has been a new development regarding his client, a fresh review of the case was warranted pursuant to a provision of Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations. The “new development” being that the client has recently been accused of practicing witchcraft to the detriment of his relatives. The court agreed with Mr. Jesuorobo. Mr. Jesuorobo pointed out that before applying to the Federal Court, he had "requested Canadian officials to voluntarily delay my client's deportation in light of new circumstances, but theyperfunctorily refused citing their
obligation to remove persons under deportation order immediately. Mr. Jesuorobo stressed that his client's fears are two-pronged: “Firstly, my client fears the invasion of his freedom of religion. As a Christian, he does not want to subscribe to the act of swearing before deities and gods and the drinking of concoctions which characterize the so-called witch verification exercises. Secondly, my client fears the physical maltreatment to which an accused is subjected during the process as well as the probable death that often results from the consumption the concoctions which invariably prove to be poisonous.     
Asked about what message he has for people who might be in similar situation, Mr. Jesuorobo, who is one of the leading Immigration lawyers in Canada, said: "They should have confidence in the Canadian legal process. It works! Do not lose hope. Get a competent lawyer to represent you. Even though it is a monumental task, you may very well have a chance against all odds". He jokingly added: "I may have to change my practice motto from 'Fearless Advocacy Is Our Hallmark' to 'Against All Odds'.   
         
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE LAW OFFICE OF KINGSLEY JESUOROBO & ASSOCIATES:
 
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                           OTTAWA
 
NIGERIA SIGNS FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT WITH THE FORUM OF FEDERATIONS, THURSDAY, 17 FEBRUARY 2005
 
A Framework Agreement has been signed between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Forum of Federations. The Agreement was concluded at the Nigeria High Commission in Ottawa on Thursday, 17 February 2005.
Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada, His Excellency, Ambassador Olufemi George, signed on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, while Mr. Donald G. Dennison, Senior Vice President of the Forum signed on behalf of his organization. The Forum of Federations was established in 1998 as a non-profit, international organization based in Ottawa, Canada. It comprises 25 member states with Federal Systems of Government from across the globe, four of them in Africa; namely, Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa and the Comoros.
The organization conducts a wide range of programmes of mutual cooperation, which are designed to assist in the promotion of best practices in Federalism and to share experiences in the challenges of governance in Federal Systems. It is governed by a Board of Directors of thirteen individuals drawn from member states. Dr. Alex Ekwueme, former Vice President of Nigeria, is currently Nigeria's representative on the Board. The Framework Agreement is designed to foster the exchange and sharing of information, ideas, intellectual, financial and human resources among member states. Among other things, the Agreement is intended to create an international partnership that will support the Forum and States Parties in improving governance and enhancing democracy by promoting dialogue on the practices, principles and possibilities of federalism. It also commits States Parties to make a minimum annual contribution of US$50,000.00, (Fifty thousand United States Dollars), for a three-year period, for the execution of the work programme of the Forum as approved by the Board.
Nigeria is the first country to sign the Framework Agreement, ahead of Austria, Australia, Canada, Australia and Switzerland. Nigeria stands to benefit from the Forum as the country seeks to continually improve its practice of Federalism, with a view to strengthening the unity of the country.