Respite for Nigerian woman facing deportation

Respite for Nigerian woman facing deportation
May 31
11:56 2014

A Nigerian woman facing deportation in the United Kingdom can breathe a bit after her removal was delayed by at least one day.

Afusat Saliu said her two daughters faced a risk of circumcision if they were deported, and also claimed that having converted from Islam to Christianity, she could be targeted by Boko Haram on her return home.

Reports said she was supposed to have been deported to Lagos on Friday night on a Virgin Atlantic flight.

Cases of female circumcision in Lagos are very rare ─ so also is the possibility of being targeted by Boko Harm who are known to operate in northern Nigeria.


Some parts of south-west Nigeria still practise female circumcision, but Afusat’s hometown has not been made public.

She said she too had been circumcised as a young girl.

She only got a reprieve on Friday as she is still detained at an immigration centre in London.


The 31-year-old woman’s two daughters, Bassy and Rashidat, are four and two years old respectively.

A social media campaign was launched to stop Virgin Atlantic from flying Saliu back to the country.

Protesters bombarded Virgin owner Richard Branson with tweets, accusing him of hypocrisy because the company has previously campaigned against female circumcision.

Saliu’s lawyers launched an application for judicial review in a last-minute effort to keep her in the UK.


The woman and her daughters were first taken to Sheffield, before being moved to Cayley House near Heathrow on Wednesday night.

The following day, they were moved again to Cedars detention centre near Gatwick.

Saliu told ITV News: “I feel let down because (the Home Office) didn’t give me the chance, they didn’t care about my children and I came here to this country for protection.

“I’m scared of my extended family. My two girls, how can I protect them?


“I know how traumatic it is and I don’t want my girls, these two innocent girls, to go through it.”

Saliu left Nigeria for the UK in 2011 because, she said, there was a plan to force her to marry a man 40 years her senior.


She was pregnant with Rashidat at the time.

The case is not generating enough media attention in Nigeria possibly because there may be cynicism on her claims.


Many Nigerians are known to come up with different stories in a bid to escape hardship at home and gain citizenship of Western countries by alleging persecution or social exclusion.

Some of Saliu’s friends have even linked her case to the kidnap of hundreds of schoolgirls from Chibok, Borno State, saying that her daughters are also facing a similar risk from Boko Haram.

People Help People ─ an association that is championing Saliu’s case ─ said the Home Office had totally ignored the rule that Saliu had to be given 72 hours notice before deportation.

Its director, Anj Handa (pictured with Afusat and her daughters), said: “Finally they have accepted that. She has been given an overnight reprieve, but the campaign is still very much ongoing and the lawyers are still working on her judicial review. We are still urging people to keep up the pressure to help her stay in this country while the case is reviewed.”

Branson and his daughter Holly wrote a joint blogpost after the issue blew up on Twitter: “If Afusat Saliu and her family are deported to Nigeria, we call upon the UK and Nigerian governments to do all they can to protect the family and ensure they are not put at risk of female genital mutilation.

“As we have previously stated, FGM is a horrendous practice and a serious violation of internationally recognised human rights. The authorities must ensure the Saliu family are given all support and protection possible.

“While Virgin Atlantic cannot confirm whether any passengers are or are not flying with them due to data protection laws, they would view any case like this with the safety and welfare of all passengers their primary concern.”

More than 120,000 people have signed a petition to keep the family in the UK.

1 Comment

  1. JoeBoy
    JoeBoy May 31, 15:04

    This is what the serial Boko Haram Governments of Nigeria has done to the self-esteem of the Nigerian people. This poor woman, who is basically an economic refugee is compelled to lie about a non-existent Female Genital Mutilation threat, apostasy and laughable Boko Haram threat, in order to stay in cold and dreary England, perhaps surviving precariously on cleaning jobs .

    The Shagaris, Babangida, Buhari, Gowon, Obasanjo, Danjuma and all the carpetbaggers that have been afflicted on Nigeria should hide their faces in shame for the psychological damage they have done to this hapless woman and other Nigerians. Shame on All of You!!!! They will probably blame Goodluck Jonathan for the problem they created over the years.

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