Sussex’s senior management team has recently received an open letter from over 200 Sussex members of staff, including numerous academics, requesting that the university support recent MA student Luqman Onikosi in his fight against deportation and what he believes would be a ‘death sentence.’
Luqman developed Hepatitis B while studying at Sussex but when his application to remain in Britain on health and human right grounds was denied by the Home Office, he was faced with returning to Nigeria, where he believes there would not be adequate care for his condition. Callum Cant, another Sussex MA student and a member of the group campaigning to keep Luqman in Britain, 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”
The organisers of the #DontDeportLuqman campaign have been petitioning the University to back them in urging the Home Office to consider Luqman’s illness a mitigating circumstance. In early March, they stormed Bramber House and occupied the top floor conference room in what they described in their press releases as an attempt to cost the university money and get management’s attention after requesting support from the university had got no response.
Now members of staff have joined the calls for our university to support Luqman. The open letter is addressed to both the University and the Home Office. It reads: “We call on Sussex University to use its influence and position in society to fully and strongly lobby the Home Office to give leave to remain to Luqman, a student who has paid thousands in international fees to the university and contributed actively to the community in the UK, and to allow him to complete his studies.”
They also say in their open letter that they are calling on the Home Office “to help save Luqman’s life by allowing him to stay in the UK.”
Asked to comment on the letter by The Badger, a University of Sussex spokesperson said: “We are, and always have been, very sorry to know of Mr Onikosi’s illness. It’s clear that staff and students across the University care passionately about his plight and we sympathise with his situation.
“Although we fully appreciate there are many people who support Mr Onikosi, his visa status has been determined by the Home Office.
“The University has around 2000 students and 90 members of staff who require a special visa in order to study and work in the UK, and it’s for this reason that we can’t comment any further on the Home Office, as we don’t wish to risk the visa status of these people who have made a considerable commitment to study or work in the UK.
“We respect the right for everyone in our community to express their views peacefully and we continue to listen to the views of our students.”
A Home Office spokesperson told The Badger: “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.”
Freya Marshall Payne