Despite a ruling from the Immigration Appeals Board that a Nigerian man who sought asylum four years ago cannot be deported on the grounds of the Dublin Regulation, The Grapevine has learned that he was arrested this afternoon, taken into custody, and will be deported tomorrow. A protest is being held at the capital area police station this evening.
The asylum seeker in question is Eze Okafor, who came to Iceland in 2012, fleeing persecution from Boko Haram. The terrorist group had harassed, stalked, and even physically assaulted him – by stabbing him in the head, leaving a noticeable scar.
The Directorate of Immigration (UTL) denied his application for asylum on humanitarian grounds, despite such protections being granted to other asylum seekers who hailed from similar circumstances. As such, he sought to appeal.
The Grapevine was able to review a copy of the ruling the Immigration Appeals Board made on March 15. In this ruling, they referred to both international law and Supreme Court rulings which state that if an asylum seeker is not deported within six months of being denied asylum, they can no longer be deported on the grounds of the Dublin Regulation. The Board stated in this ruling that in their view, the six-month grace period had certainly passed in Eze’s case.
Despite this, Eze was contacted shortly thereafter by UTL, who told him to report to the police. He did so early this afternoon, was taken into custody, and is slated to be deported tomorrow to Sweden. From there, based on a decision made four years previous (when Boko Haram was not nearly as powerful a force as it is now), he will most likely be sent to Nigeria.
“I have lived in Iceland for four years, and I see Iceland as my home,” Eze told reporters last January. “Here, I have a place to live and people that I consider family. I have behaved, contributed to society, and have just attained balance in my life when I received this horrible news.”
Ezo is in fact still being sought by Boko Haram. If he returns to Nigeria, he says, his fate is all but sealed.
“I’m going to be sent back to Nigeria where my life is in danger,” he said. “I know these people [in Boko Haram] and I know that they are still looking for me. The only thing I ask is the opportunity to tell my story. That I am treated like a human being; not a number on a piece of paper.”
A protest demonstration is to be held in front of the Capital Area Police station, next to Hlemmur, at 19:30 today. Unless something changes between now and tomorrow morning, Eze could well be on his way back to imminent danger in Nigeria.
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