By Austin M. Davis
Victoria Ordu and Ihuoma Amadi, two international students facing deportation, have received a lot of media attention since September. But the press has kept quiet about the juiciest detail: the name of the church where the two young women are hiding.
Emma Graney broke the story on Sept. 11 for the Regina Leader-Post by going to the church and speaking with the two former University of Regina students from Nigeria.
“Where they’ve taken sanctuary is something that their immigration consultant, or lawyer, doesn’t want to be made public simply because of consideration of his concern that Canadian Border Services Agency may then go into the church and remove the girls,” Graney said.
Ordu and Amadi haven’t left the church since June 19. The women opted to seek sanctuary after they were threatened with deportation back to Nigeria because they worked for two weeks at a Regina Walmart.
Graney – and other media outlets covering the story after – agreed to not make the name of the church public.
Graney said that the secrecy in which the women’s immigration consultant Kay Adebogun, arranged the interview cemented the seriousness of the potential consequences of publishing the location.
“I met with him somewhere and then he kind of drove me to where it is that they’re staying,” Graney said. “The fact that he’s going to such lengths seems, to me, would indicate that he really is concerned about the name of where they’re staying. He’s really concerned about that getting out.”
Whitney Stinson did a story on Ordu and Amadi for Global Regina. She said she had no reservations about agreeing to not reveal the name of the church.
“We were interested in getting the interview and in getting the interview, that was one of their stipulations and I thought that that was fair. Part of the reason that they’re in hiding is that there is a Canada-wide warrant for their arrest,” Stinson said.
Patricia Bell, a journalist and journalism professor with more than 30 years of experience said that releasing the name of the church is not in the public’s interest.
“I would find it very difficult to justify breaking that agreement when it is going to lead to some action that is going to have an impact on this story. What that’s doing is making the journalist a part of the story,” Bell said.
She added that if there were serious concerns about Ordu and Amadi’s health, journalists would have reason to consider revealing the location of the sanctuary.