UK authorities are insisting on deporting a gay Nigerian asylum seeker, despite him facing a possible death sentence and a campaign to let him stay in Bradford.
Olalekan M Ayelokun fled from Nigeria eight years ago to escape persecution because of his sexuality.
UPDATE: 6.30pm GMT, 2 October GSN has just been informed that UK authorities plans to deport Ayelokun on Charter flight PVT090, flying from Heathrew tonight at 11.27pm GMT.
A judge at Bradford’s Immigration Court stated he was not convinced Ayelokun was a gay and ordered his deportation tonight (2 October).
Ayelokun was detained last Tuesday after a routine appointment at the UK Border Agency’s Waterside Court offices in Leeds.
Jason Feather, a friend of Ayelokun told Gay Star News: ‘He was arrested with only the clothes he was wearing, since then he did not have a change of clothes.
'Yesterday he was moved to Collingbrook detention center in London, which is near the airport so he can be deported to Nigeria in only four days.'
Ayelokun told Gay Star News and Feather that the Home Office have brought the deportation forward to tonight, Ayelokun is to be put on a charter flight at 11.27pm GMT to Nigeria.
His solicitor, Mark Taylor, appealing to the High Court in a bid to get the judge’s decision reversed.
However, a UK Border Agency (UKBA) spokesman told the daily Telegraph and Argus that Ayelokun had lived in the UK illegally, having overstayed a visit visa that expired in 2003.
The spokesman said: ‘He did not claim asylum until 2011, after he was arrested by UK Border Agency officers for using false documents to gain employment.
‘At no point has he been able to provide sufficient evidence of his sexuality and our decision not to grant him asylum has been upheld by an independent immigration judge.’
Taylor, Ayelokun’s solicitor, branded the judge’s decision in as ‘extraordinary’, claiming three former sexual partners and other friends from the gay scene gave evidence on oath that his client was gay.
He said: ‘This young man is undoubtedly gay. The reality is he will die if he goes back to Nigeria. Homosexuality is an offence there and there is Sharia law in some places, so the reality is that he will die.’
Jason Feather told GSN: ‘My friend Ola Ayelokun may face death if he is deported to Nigera.
‘It is also contradiction of David Cameron's pledge in 2010 who said that: “those Africans seeking asylum on the basis of sexual orientation and at real risk of persecution in their home countries should be allowed to stay in the UK".
'We are hoping the Prime Minister will step in and keep his word.’
Homosexuality is illegal in the federal system of Nigeria and is punished in different states in varying degrees of severity.
Southern states punishes same-sex acts with up to 14 years imprisonment.
While northern states punish same-sex acts with a minimum of 14 years imprisonment as well as a fine, and in twelve of the northern states punishments include flogging and death by stoning.
Omar Kuddus, chair of the British charity organization GayAsylumUK slammed the UK authorities telling GSN: ‘To what length does a person have to go to prove he is gay?
‘The UKBA needs to understand that to be gay in Nigeria is a death sentence and as such how can they justify sending him back to his possible death?
‘The UKBA must realize that they are playing with lives and as such must show compassion and understanding.’
Kuddus and Feather urge readers 'to call the the UKBA (+44 (0)870 606 7766) to demand this deportation is terminated.
'Contact the Home Secretary Theresa May, who has ultimate responsibility for asylum, on (+44 (0)20 7219 5206 or [email protected]) to ask her to show compassion to Ayelokun.
'Email the new Minister of State for Immigration, Mark Harper ([email protected] or +44 (0)1452 371 630) to ask him to intervene.'