Britain deports its five-gold medal Nigerian hero


AFTER winning five gold medals for Britain, the country is deporting disabled weightlifter Vincent Onwubiko to Nigeria because he is not qualified to live in the United Kingdom (UK), the UK Border Agency has said. Onwubiko, 43, who suffers from polio and uses a wheelchair, was expected to be flown from London to Lagos as early as yesterday evening, The Independent newspaper said.

He came to Britain in 1994 and represented Britain at the 1995 and 1997 World Wheelchair Games.

He was also selected for the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta but could not attend.

He claims that he could be dead within weeks if sent back to Nigeria. Onwubiko told The Independent: “The government has given me three months of painkillers for my return to Nigeria and told me to get on with it. But I need proper care. Sending me back is a death sentence.”

He was sentenced to five months in prison for driving while disqualified after twice being convicted of careless driving. Immigrants who commit serious criminal offences are subject to automatic deportation once their sentences end. Onwubiko is being held at the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, close to London Heathrow Airport.

“In light of a number of criminal convictions, Vincent Onwubiko was notified on November 13, 2007 of a decision to make a deportation order against him,” the head of criminality and detentions at the United Kingdom Border Agency, David Wood, said.

“Full consideration was given to his case and the decision was reviewed and upheld by an immigration judge. His judicial review claim was found by the judge to be totally without merit.

“The UK Border Agency has not been presented with a European Court of Human Rights injunction preventing his removal and there are therefore no legal barriers to his removal from the UK.”

The Red Road estate in north Glasgow is an estate where asylum seekers abandon hope. With Dilapidated doorways and rust-stained windows dominate the eight high-rise blocks, which tower over the city. To locals, they are known as a home for the unwanted and those whose futures lie in the hands of Home Office officials.

It was here, early on Sunday morning, that a family of Russian asylum seekers chose to end their lives by jumping from the 15th floor of one of the buildings. Neighbours say the family were about to be removed from the country.

Cynthia Ayorinde, from Nigeria, has been in the UK for six years and has lived in the Red Road flats with her two children for the past six months. 

“I have thought about taking my life and my children’s lives,” she said. “We share flats with drug addicts.

“My family and I spent two months in the Dungavel detention centre in July, but now, because I can’t take living like this any longer, I have applied for assistance to go home to my country. I know it is a huge risk but I can’t stay here, waiting until we lose hope.”

Onwubiko has written to Prime Minister Gordon Brown asking him to look into his case.