Monday, 20 June 2016

Iceland Deports 32-Year-Old Eze Okafor, a Boko Haram Victim from Nigeria

Eze Okafor, 32, had been living in Iceland for the last four years, working as a cook in a local restaurant. He fled Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria, after him and his younger brother, Okwy, were attacked by Boko Haram in 2010, in retaliation for not joining them.

He was stabbed in the head and face while Okwy was killed. Soon after, Eze fled Nigeria and made a long and dangerous boat journey to Europe, where in 2011 he sought asylum in Sweden. He was denied asylum and he made his way to Iceland. He applied for asylum in Iceland in 2012 but was denied.

Through a lawyer, Katrin Theodorsdottir, he applied for permission to stay in Iceland on humanitarian grounds, as his case slowly made its way through the system. The request was granted. After many legal bottlenecks, he was deported to Sweden in May, 2016.

Eze said Boko Haram is an ongoing threat in Nigeria and they have members and supporters at all levels of government and in the police. He added that members of Boko Haram once kidnapped his mother in a bid to force him to return to Nigeria.

After brutalising her - including an attack to her face that compromised her eyesight - the kidnappers demanded a ransom. His words: "What I am facing in Nigeria is that this Islamic group is after my life. My life is in danger."

He said he believes that when he lands at the airport in Nigeria he fears he will be apprehended by the police. "Boko Haram has a network. They have been looking for me since then." He said if he returns to Nigeria, he believes it would mean death for him. He is working hard to find a lawyer who could take his case in Sweden.

He was handed papers by the Swedish immigration authorities, which gave him until June 1 to leave Sweden or be deported back to Nigeria. His former lawyer, Theodorsdottir, has again requested that he be granted permission to live in Iceland on humanitarian grounds, a request that is still pending. 

Al Jazeera

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