There is to be a vigil at the City Hall tomorow in protest at the deportation of Comfort Adefowoju and her young Belfast born daughter. Ms Adefowoju is originally from Lagos and left the country after her husband got into financial difficulties with one of the political groupings there. The Home Office are planning to return her to the federal capital, Abuja. But it is understood she has neither family there nor any practical means of support.“11th Hour” Vigil For Family Facing Removal To Nigeria
In a last ditch attempt to stall the deportation of a woman and her young family to Nigeria, friends and concerned citizens will gather on Monday 21st January at 12 noon outside Belfast City Hall, urging the Home Office to reconsider and return the family to their Belfast home.
Comfort Adefowoju, who has been in Belfast since 2006, fled Nigeria with her children after being threatened and intimidated by paramilitaries. A popular and well known member of Mountpottinger Presbyterian Church, she and her children are well integrated in the community, attending local schools, clubs and praise groups. The family are due to be removed on Monday morning, despite the firm belief of friends, campaigners and local politicians that they will be in severe danger if they are returned to Nigeria. A fresh asylum claim by Comfort was heard and refused by the Home Office in just 48 hours.
Having successfully stalled her deportation three times, friends are distraught that the Home Office are still refusing to back down despite widespread cross-community support for the family in Belfast . Fionola Meredith, one of the campaign organisers, said: “It makes no sense to us that the Home Office is pushing ahead with her removal when she has so much support in her Belfast community and compelling evidence from Nigeria. What harm are Comfort and her young children doing?”
Following an unsuccessful claim for asylum, Comfort and her children were “snatched” by immigration authorities in November, and have spent both Christmas and the New Year behind bars in Yarl’s Wood IRC.
While in detention Comfort has not received adequate legal representation, despite a reprieve granted for that very purpose. Friends are urging the Home Office to postpone her removal at least until she has had access to due recourse and her Belfast-born daughter has been provided with the necessary anti-malarial vaccinations.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty