Ozo v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2003 FCT 400 (CanLII)
Neutral citation: 2003 FCT 400Toronto, Ontario, Thursday, the 3rd day of April, 2003 PRESENT: The Honourable Madam Justice Snider
JAY AIZEY OZOApplicant
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THE MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATIONRespondent REASONS FOR ORDER AND ORDER  This is an application for judicial review of the decision of the Convention Refugee Determination Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board (the "Board"), dated March 15, 2002, wherein Mr. Jay Aizey Ozo (the "Applicant") was found not to be a Convention refugee. The Applicant seeks judicial review of that decision.
Background The Applicant is a citizen of Nigeria who alleges a well-founded fear of persecution at the hands of Nigerian authorities based on his perceived political opinion and membership in a particular social group, namely pro-environmental activists.  According to his Personal Information Form ("PIF") narrative, the Applicant was arrested on January 12, 1999 in the town of Warri in Delta State, while visiting his girlfriend. The Applicant's girlfriend and her brothers were involved in protests against the government and oil companies regrading the exploitation of the people by those companies. The military stormed the Applicant's girlfriend's house and arrested the Applicant and his girlfriend's cousin; his girlfriend and her brothers were not at home at the time of the raid. The Applicant was detained at Warri prison and was physically, sexually and mentally abused. The Applicant claims that, under duress, he signed a false confession to the effect that he was involved in the demonstration and destroyed property belonging to the oil companies and the government.  In August 1999, the Applicant escaped from detention with the assistance of a guard who was bribed. He went into hiding until he left Nigeria in September 1999. He arrived in Canada on September 21, 1999 and claimed Convention refugee status.
The Board's Decision After considering all of the evidence, the Board found that the Applicant's story was not credible. In making this finding, the Board referred to the documentary evidence which indicated that although excessive, and sometimes deadly, force was used by security forces in the Delta area, this occurred in situations where the security forces were dealing with criminal activities; there were no reports of such excesses occurring in political situations or that peaceful political activists like the Applicant's girlfriend were being targeted by the authorities for apprehension or detention. Although the documentary evidence indicated that suspects are detained in order to entice family members to surrender to the authorities, the Board found that the practice of placing relatives and friends of wanted suspects in detention without criminal charge occurred in the context of criminal activity and the apprehension of criminal suspects. There was no evidence that the Applicant's girlfriend was participating in criminal activities. In addition, the documentary evidence showed that the type of arbitrary arrest and detention described by the Applicant occurred much less frequently and that there were no reports of arrests of members of pro-democracy movements or other political activists or of torture of political dissidents.  As a result of its finding that the Applicant was probably not arrested and detained, the Board did not believe the Applicant's evidence that he was mistreated in prison over the course of his seven month detention. The Board concluded that there was not a serious possibility that the Applicant would be persecuted if he returned to Nigeria.
Issues The Applicant raises the following issues: 1. Was the Board's overall assessment of the evidence patently unreasonable, perverse and capricious? 2. Did the Board commit errors of law on the following grounds: i) rejecting the Applicant's credibility on the basis of its flawed plausibility assessment alone; ii) misapprehending, misstating and misinterpreting the documentary evidence on the record; iii) making findings based on unfounded and unwarranted speculation and contrary to the evidence presented before it. All of these issues and the submissions of the Applicant relate to the Board's use of the documentary evidence in its adverse credibility finding.
Analysis I am of the view that this application for judicial review should be dismissed for the following reasons.  In the Applicant's submission, since the Board based its adverse credibility finding on apparent conflicts between the Applicant's testimony and the documentary evidence, the Board was in no better position than this Court to weigh the evidence. The Applicant submits that the Board erred by concluding that, according to the documentary evidence, only those engaged in "criminal activities" were targeted. In short, the totality of the documentary evidence was clearly contrary to the conclusions of the Board. Since the Board's decision was not based on the totality of the evidence on the record, the Board committed an error of law and its decision should be overturned (Bains v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration),  F.C.J. No. 497 (T.D.) (QL); Osman v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration),  F.C.J. No. 322 (C.A.) (QL); Tang v. Canada (Secretary of State),  F.C.J. No. 837 (T.D.) (QL); Chaudri v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration),  F.C.J. No. 363 (C.A.) (QL)). Even if the Board did interpret the evidence correctly, it committed an error of law by failing to understand that the actions of the Nigerian authorities suggest that they perceived the activities of the Applicant's girlfriend as criminal.  The parties agreed that the appropriate standard of review is one of patent unreasonableness, which means that findings of credibility must be supported by the evidence and must not be made capriciously or based on erroneous findings of fact (Aguebor v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration),  F.C.J. No. 732 (C.A.) (Q.L.); Singh v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration),  F.C.J. No. 514 (C.A.) (QL); Muhammed v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration),  F.C.J. No. 815 (T.D.) (QL)).
FEDERAL COURT OF CANADA
Names of Counsel and Solicitors of RecordDOCKET: IMM-1809-02 STYLE OF CAUSE: JAY AIZEY OZO
Applicant- and - THE MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
RespondentPLACE OF HEARING: TORONTO, ONTARIO DATE OF HEARING: THURSDAY, APRIL 3, 2003
REASONS FOR ORDERAND ORDER BY: SNIDER J. DATED: THURSDAY, APRIL 3, 2003 APPEARANCES BY: Mr. Kingsley I. Jesuorobo For the Applicant Mr. Jeremiah Eastman For the Respondent SOLICITORS OF RECORD: Kingsley I. Jesuorobo Barrister & Solicitor 1280 Finch Avenue West Suite 318 North York, Ontario M3J 3K6 For the Applicant Morris Rosenberg Deputy Attorney General of Canada For the Respondent
FEDERAL COURT OF CANADADate: 20030403 Docket: IMM-1809-02
JAY AIZEY OZO
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THE MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
REASONS FOR ORDER