Two Icelanders were arrested while attempting to block the deportation of a Nigerian asylum seeker, whose case has raised questions about the purpose of the Immigration Appeals Board.
Early this morning, police transported Nigerian asylum seeker Eze Okafor to Keflavík International Airport, to be deported to Sweden. From there, he will most likely be sent back to Nigeria, where he is facing persecution from Boko Haram.
Sources close to The Grapevine say two Icelanders from the human rights group No Borders attempted to block the deportation. A video taken on board the plane carrying Eze can be seen here. Three short videos of Eze being restrained at the airport can be seen here:
As reported, Eze 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 yesterday afternoon, was taken into custody, and was slated to be deported this morning 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.”
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