Recent Sussex MA student Luqman Onikosi is fighting the Home Office’s decision to deport him to Nigeria following their rejection of his leave to remain application, which was made on human rights grounds.
Luqman, who studied both his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Sussex, has a chronic liver condition brought on by Hepatitis B.
Speaking to The Badger, a Home Office spokesperson said: “All cases are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules. Human rights claims on medical grounds are always considered in line with Article 3 of ECHR.”
A website set up in support of Luqman, ‘Campaign to Stop the Deportation of Luqman Onikosi’ (http://www.campaignforluqman.org.uk/), explains:
“To maintain his health, every six months Luqman must undergo a liver biopsy, liver function ultrasound scan, a muscle reflex test, a Hep B load test, Fibrosis score test, ALT Score test, E antigen test and liver function test”.
Luqman claims that effective treatment for the condition is not available in Nigeria.
He has already lost two brothers, both living in Nigeria, to the same disease. One passed away in October 2011, and the other in March 2012. Unless the Home Office reverses its decision and allows him to remain in the UK, Mr Onikosi believes the same fate will await him.
The Home Office have previously attempted to deport Luqman. In 2012, a campaign sucesssfully mobilised to oppose his deportation and he won the right to remain in Britain (and start his MA at Sussex) while the Home Office considered his leave to remain application submitted with the help of a pro bono lawyer on human rights grounds.
Callum Cant, organiser of the #Don’tDeportLuqman fundraising campaign (https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/dontdeportluqman) said:
“The Home Office has passed a death sentence against this young man. We now call on them to reverse their decision, and immediately grant Luqman leave to remain in the UK.”
The #Don’tDeportLuqman fundraising campaign was started to raise money for Luqman to seek legal advice. The organisers wrote on the page:
“[Luqman] needs money to seek further legal advice, and support a campaign to save his life. Anything you can spare will go towards, quite literally keeping Luqman alive.”
Last year, while in the final stages of his Masters degree, Luqman’s right to study was withdrawn by the University of Sussex at the demand of the Home Office.
His application to remain in Britain had been rejected by that point but he says that the Home Office did not notify him. Callum Cant explains that “only in Late January 2016 did he obtain a copy of a letter, dated May 2015, telling him his application had been rejected.”
He goes on to say that Luqman “is now at risk of detention and deportation at any time.”
The Badger contacted the university to ask about Luqman’s suspension and the University’s enforcement of the Home Office decision.
These questions were not answered directly, but a University of Sussex spokesperson said to The Badger: “We are very sorry to hear about Mr Onikosi’s illness and understand that he has a group of supporters who are trying to help him to resolve his situation”.
Rose Taylor, Postgraduate Officer within Sussex’s Student Union, has released a statement showing her support for Luqman. She said: “Luqman Onikosi has been a valued member of the student and academic community at Sussex for the past 8 years.
“Since coming to the UK in 2007 he has studied for two degrees at Sussex, given a huge amount of time and energy to the Students’ Union and has recently been conducting some exciting research into Decolonizing Education at Sussex.
“The Home Office’s decision to deport Luqman to a country which cannot provide him with the care he needs to stay alive is inhumane and cold-hearted.
“Luqman, myself and other Sussex students are calling for the Home Office and Theresa May to grant him leave to remain and stop all attempts to deport him. We’re calling on all Sussex students to stand together and demand that Luqman be allowed to stay in the country where he can be given the support that he needs.”
A petition has been circulating around academics and students union officers. Popular academic Noam Chomsky, amongst others, has already signed it.