Nigerian student’s deportation is ‘death sentence,’ say activists

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Students at the University of Sussex have occupied a campus building to oppose the deportation of Luqman Onikosi, who suffers from a life-threatening illness.

Onikosi, who was studying an MA in global political economy, is facing deportation to Nigeria. He says the Home Office’s decision to send him back will cost him his life.

After moving to the UK to study in 2007, Onikosi was diagnosed with a chronic liver condition. He believes he will die if returned to Nigeria, where medical facilities are more limited.

“I was subsequently diagnosed with a chronic liver condition brought on by Hepatitis B. In Nigeria, there is not the medical infrastructure required to keep me alive. My battle to stay in the UK on medical grounds, in other words, is a fight to stay alive,” Onikosi told the Independent.

While in the UK, Onikosi lost both his brothers to the same illness and worries the same fate awaits him if he is forced to return to Nigeria.

“In 2011, and then 2012, my two brothers in Nigeria died of complications brought on by the same illness. The same fate now awaits me, unless the Home Office reverses its decision to refuse me leave to remain in the UK,” said Onikosi.

Students are angry at their university’s decision to revoke Onikosi’s student status, but the institution says it had no say in the matter.

“We are, and have always been, very sorry to know of Mr Onikosi’s illness. The status of Mr Onikosi’s visa is a directive from the Home Office and the university is not able to influence that decision in any way,” said a university spokesmen.

Campaigners seized the balcony of a university building to oppose the deportation, unfurling banners of support while chanting: “Luqman is here to stay, let’s deport Theresa May.”

“There isn’t really any medical doubt he would die through total organ failure without proper treatment. We just can’t believe the Home Office are doing this to him. We are outraged,” said a spokesperson for the student campaign.

A video of the moment the group stormed Bramber House was posted on twitter.

Onikosi feels the UK government has used him as a “cash cow” for his student fees and are showing little compassion after two appeals were rejected.

“If even my rights as a ‘cash cow’ are denied, what a dire situation it is.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The individual’s application was fully considered and has been through the appeal process. An independent immigration judge found that he has no right to remain in the UK.”