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23rd February 2016

Nigerian student faces deportation to death

Master’s student Luqman Onikosi faces deportation back to Nigeria where he will not receive critical Hepatitis B treatment

Luqman Onikosi, a Master’s student studying at the University of Sussex, suffers from Hepatitis B, a potentially fatal disease. He is currently facing deportation back to Nigeria, where he claims that they “do not have the medical infrastructure” to keep him alive.

Onikosi first arrived in the UK in 2007 as an undergraduate; it was then that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis B, a condition that later killed two of his brothers in Nigeria, in 2011 and 2012. The illness is a chronic condition affecting the liver; according to the World Health Organisation, 240 million people are infected with the virus worldwide, 780,000 of whom die every year due to complications such as liver cancer and cirrhosis.

The Home Office first tried to deport Luqman in 2012, but he fought the decision and was permitted to stay. A crowd funding effort then allowed him to return to the university to undertake a Master’s degree after working at the Nigerian High Commission in London.

Now, he faces the issue for a second time. The Home Office states that they sent a letter to Onikosi informing him of his visa application rejection in May 2015, but the Nigerian student maintains that he only received it a matter of weeks ago. The ‘Campaign to Stop the Deportation of Luqman Onikosi’ writes that Luqman is “now at risk of detention and deportation at any time” as a result.

The stress of the situation has taken its toll on Luqman—he says that he is “struggling with physical and mental health” and is simply trying to get through the day and “stay sane” in the midst of the upheaval.

Luckily for Onikosi, he has been “overwhelmed by support” in the UK—grassroots groups both in and out of the University of Sussex have joined forces to create the campaign #dontdeportluqman, as well as to pay his legal expenses, through the crowd funding website ‘Generosity’.

Luqman has highlighted the similarity of his situation to several others on his official statement on ‘Novara Wire’, an online political media platform. This includes Ama Sumani, who was deported back to Ghana whilst receiving treatment for terminal cancer in Cardiff—she died three months later. Luqman argues that migrants have made significant economic and social contributions to the UK and so should not be dealt with in such a “dehumanising and humiliating” manner.

The ideal outcome for the campaign in the eyes of Onikosi and his supporters is for him to be given leave to stay in the UK, in order to receive the medical treatment that he needs “to stay alive”.

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