The controversial criminal charge in an adoption case involving a Nigerian family in London commenced last week with the case approaching its second week this week.
According to Mr Justice James Patrick, hearing in the case will run for five to six weeks after its original four-weeks scheduled. The case involves a local council adoption of six children of a Nigerian family.Their parents who allegedly are being charged for child abuse are currently serving jail terms following a criminal and Court contempt charge and they are transported from their respective prison residence to the Court everyday.
The case is one of the most controversial adoption challenges in United Kingdom and it has been put up for hearing at a Crown Court in Harringey in North London. Harringey has had so many adoption cases in recent years among them the case of one Baby ‘P’ who died as a result of parental abuses, the result of which had put the local Council in constant legal dock due to many unfolding events on those cases. Other adoption cases had run the Borough into several credibility questions.
The experience however is making the council weary of events about suspected child abuses and the current case is another acid test as the council cannot afford its image on child abuse dented more.
However, as the case came to Wood Green Crown Court on Monday May 21, several grounds for the hearing were prepared with a jury panel of 12 selected from 30 invited members who were present in the Court. Ten of the juror members are volunteers. The twelve jury panels were selected from 30 members present at the Court through balloting, with judge James Patrick continually asking from those shortlisted for jury-panelling if they were connected in any way with Haringey Social Services, Child Protection service or Contact service activities.
On the commencement of the case, many sympathisers were in court to give the couple support as it emerged they had been shielded from family and public contacts since they were sent to jail last November.
Also, following a protest by those sympathisers who were present at the Court to last Monday that the Courtroom was too small and unsuitable for such public interest case, Court James Patrick granted request for a bigger Courtroom which prompted a shift to Court 5 on the third floor of the complex.
However, last Monday, Judge Patrick made two things very plain to all those assembled before him; He wants to keep strict time in the proceedings in order that the case will not have to run into 5, 6 or even 7 weeks over the original 4 allocated.
The case will commence every day at 10 am and will run to 4.30 pm. The Judge however indicated that there might be occasional overrun to 4.45, like if a key witness would have to be allowed to complete evidence.
Also on Monday, in deference to Sir Nicholas Wall, President of the RCJ Family Division, a ‘Blanket Ban’ on all public reporting of the proceedings, including reports on the internet was imposed.
However, the following Tuesday saw a change of heartby Judge Patrick who lifted the ban as long as all names of all individuals involved in the case are not mentioned in order to avoid public endangerment.
London Borough of Haringey is being represented by a Ms Smith with DC Sewart and another female colleague assisting, while the accused legal team is being headed by David Owusu http://www.1mcb.com/people/
The Nigerian government has indicated its interest in the Child adoption case case seeing through the African eyes that losing the case would attest to another image disaster for the nation.
The Nigerian Embassy, which had been made to embark on series of moves to give support to the family has not been really at hand to give the family necessary support, even though inside reports have indicated much pressure has been given from Nigeria that the family must not be allowed such incarceration as being witnessed by the parents.
On Thursday, a top official from the Embassy came to court to give his support, but only on cosmetic appearance as no financial support has been given to the family. The Embassy also was reported to have been unable to raise money for the couple’s bail following their sentence last November and no assistance despite the couple being subjected to contact censorship by the Court system procedure.
” All we are saying is that a family due to the past misgovernance of a people has found itself in an inhumane circumstance brought about by Nigeria’s social rights deprivation. The leadership laxity calls for a financial and moral support and this has not been coming for this family who are craving to go back home”, a social rights activist, Jenny Okafor who has been assisting the family said. She added that the current on-going adoption case is putting Nigerian government in the dock as the world is waiting to see how it would present itself either as a caring nation for her citizens or as another sell out government only interest in the immediate need of their families and friends.
A member of Central Association of Nigerians in the United Kingdom(CANUK) however made a short appearance on Wednesday following reports that the body had ignored the couple’s protest against neglect.
Mr Nathaniel Oyinloye of Hospital and Prison action Network who has been a regular visitor to the Court since the case commenced told emnnews.com that the turn out of Nigerians to support this case has been very woeful.
According to him, many issues may arise in future which may call for a circumstances of this sort. “How do you tackle such situation if you don’t learn now and how do you get the necessary support if you dont give your support to the family now”, he querried
On Thursday, an official of the Nigerian High Commission, Alhaji Galadinma attended the Court in his personal capacity to give support to the family
The main focus of last week’s hearing was actually on an events of 28th June 2011 concerning the most deeply ‘criminal’ of the multiple charges against the adopted children’s parents.
It was alleged that not only has the couple abused and neglected their older children, they have apparently attempted to murder a new born as well.
In a most recent proceedings Hon Justice Charles reiterated firmly that he was proceeding with the case according to how the facts before him by that time stood, that the couple both having been ‘found’ by Sir Nicholas Wall, the top Family judge, to have committed acts of cruelty on their 5 older children and to have attempted to poison their 6th child, Baby Q.
For this reason Charles J had seen no option but to uphold Haringey’s and the Guardian’s urgent insistence that the 7th child, Baby N born in prison on 9th March 2012 should be removed from his mother immediately at birth and denied breast-milk since it is now established ‘fact’ that this mother is a danger to her babies as well as to her older children.
Hence the issue of Baby Q having been wilfully drugged or poisoned by her parents raises the present proceedings to the level of a murder or attempted murder inquiry, therefore this will be dealt with first in line before the other issues of child cruelty & neglect which although serious, are not deemed to have been life-threatening.
The judge adjourned around 3 pm, enabling the Defence team to spend useful time down in the cells with their clients and also to consult a supporter who is a Biomedical specialist, who although she insisted she was not an expert, thanks to her scientific & medical knowledge was able to interpret the medical notes and shed a lot of very useful and timely light on what had gone on in St Thomas’ hospital re. Baby Q on 28th June 2011. Defence’s own expert witness/Toxicologist had already disappointed them in concluding from her clearly less than adequate perusal of the medical log for 28th June that the parents had indeed administered toxic substances to the baby very early that morning, in fact at 5 am. Searching questions will now be put to this Toxicologist who may have to revise what she has been intending to present to the court and be forced to actually study the medical notes a good deal more carefully than she has so far done.