Press Release – Belgium Born Sitting in Detention As Home Office Try to Fabricate his Nationality

Following the departure of the privately chartered flight destined for Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leonne and Liberia on the 28th of July 2015 individuals the Home Office could not forcibly remove sit uncomfortably in detention centres across the UK waiting for an uncertain future.

For Ola* this uncertainty includes being sent to Nigeria, a country that he has never stepped foot in. Ola was born in Belgium and has a Belgium birth certificate. He has lived in the UK for most of his life, since he was 7 years old. He has been here for 17 years.

Immigration officers tell Ola not to worry, they have set things up for him in Nigeria and he is going to start a new life there. He has no connections to Nigeria, no family in Nigeria and no records in Nigeria. Ola’s lawyer says the UK Home Office is acting unlawfully. Bail was previously refused as the UK Home Office argued they were still pursuing avenues for removal to Nigeria.

Ola recalls an Immigration officer saying that the Nigerian High Commission ”promised” to issue travel documents for him so that he could be removed via the Chartered flight operated by Titan Airways on the 28th of July. This same immigration officer was angry when Ola told them this did not happen. The Nigerian High Commission have previously refused to issue travel documents for him in 2013. Ola complains: ‘why are they pursuing the Nigerian authorities rather than Belgium?’ He goes on to say that ‘This is kidnap really’.

Having spent most of his life in the UK and all of his life in Europe Ola shows concern over other detainees. He says ”There’s a blind man they (the Home Office) are trying to deport. He can fall down and hit his head at any time”. Ola is a qualified gym instructor, he has family in the UK including a daughter and partner. His partner says ”I live two doors down from his family, I have seen the affect it is having on them, his father is ill and his step mother is ill. Also he used to take care of his siblings while his parents were at work, they now have to fill this caring role which they cannot afford to do.” Ola’s partner has engaged her local MP who has made contact with the UK Home Office to take into consideration Ola’s Article 8 right to family and private life. The MP has told the Home Office they must take these rights into account but no response has been given.

The Unity Centre is calling on supporters across the country to contact the Nigerian High Commission about this situation. There is concern that due to speculations that the Nigerian High Commission and the UK Home Office have a special financial relationship when it comes to issuing travel documents, Ola could in fact be removed to a country that he has absolutely no connection to.

The UK Home Office and those bodies that comply with their unlawful behaviour need to be highlighted. It is inconceivable that a young man who has never been in Nigeria should be forced to make his life there against his will, away from his partner, daughter, his family and his friends.

For interviews with Ola and his partner please contact Jasmine on 07440227972 or email unitycentremedia@gmail.com.

See updates on Facebook www.facebook.com/unity.centre35 or www.unitycentreglasgow.org

*name changed