The Directorate of Immigration (UTL) has denied asylum for a man who came to Iceland in 2012, fleeing persecution from Boko Haram in his home country of Nigeria.
According to a copy of UTL’s decision that Grapevine was able to review, the Directorate notes Eze Okafor – currently staying in Sweden after being deported there in May 2016, and whose case was supposed to have been ruled on last January – contended that he was targeted by Boko Haram on account of his being Christian. However, UTL contends in their decision that they do not believe Christians in Nigeria face any significant amount of persecution. This, it must be noted, as contrary to independent reports on the situation in Nigeria.
The decision also notes that Eze is engaged to an Icelander, and has many friends who wrote letters of support on his behalf. However, UTL does not consider friends and spouses as constituting having “special ties” to Iceland. As such, he will not be granted asylum.
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.
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 of last year. 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, and was subsequently taken into custody and then deported to Sweden.
Since then, he has been struggling to stay afloat in Sweden, while living in constant fear of being deported to Nigeria and receiving reprisals. In July 2015, UTL requested he send documentation demonstrating his connections to the Icelandic community. This request, while not unheard of, is very unusual in cases of those seeking asylum on humanitarian grounds. In addition, UTL normally only considers family members of the applicant when determining what a connection to Iceland entails, despite Eze having lived in Iceland for four years and having numerous friends.