The Grapevine was able to reach Eze Okafor, a Nigerian asylum seeker who had been living in Iceland for four years, fleeing persecution from Boko Haram. Despite an opinion from the Immigration Appeals Board last week that he cannot be deported on the grounds of the Dublin Regulation, he was arrested, put on a plane, and deported yesterday morning to Sweden.
Eze knows no one in Sweden, and is in fact staying on the streets, with nothing more than the clothes on his back. Swedish authorities have given him until June 1 to either leave Sweden, or be sent back to Nigeria, where he faces certain retaliation from Boko Haram.
Eze told The Grapevine that at the time before his arrest, he had been on vacation, but upon receiving notice from the Immigration Appeals Board – which advised that he ask the Directorate of Immigration (UTL) to re-examine his case – he voluntarily went to UTL to do just that. UTL, in turn, called the police. He was accused of having been in hiding, which he completely denies.
“If I were in hiding, why would I go by myself willingly to UTL?,” he told us. “The police said they had been looking for me. I didn’t even know this.”
Eze was told by the police he would have to start checking in at the station daily. On the third such day, he was informed he was under arrest and would be deported the next day.
Police refused to let Eze get any of his belongings. They took his phone from him, and he says he was treated roughly by the police, which included being “beaten and manhandled”. His phone was returned to him by Swedish authorities, but Icelandic police retained his Nigerian driver’s license, which they took back to Iceland with them.
Only one thing matters to Eze right now: being back in Iceland. He has been in touch with his lawyer, who is currently still working on his case.
“For me, it’s about human life,” he told us. “I’m running away from real danger. I’ve lived in Iceland for four years. It’s my home. Everything about my life is in Iceland. I’ve never had a problem with anyone there. All my friends and family are there. I don’t know anybody here.”