Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Keystone Immigration Cops

On the same day that Gordon Brown tries to get across his oxymoronic idea of a 'fair' immigration system, comes the news that the attempt on Monday to deport Vincent Onwubiko, a disabled asylum seeker who had represented Team GB as a (five) gold medal-winning Paralympic weightlifter, failed because the four security guards and one immigration officer assigned to escort him from Colnbrook IRC to Lagos, Nigeria.

Given that he is a wheelchair-bound polio victim, one would have thought that 4 security guards was a bit excessive, but they managed to carry him out to the waiting van and drive off to Heathrow Airport. However, the five escorts singularly forgot to bring along Mr Onwubiko's wheelchair! Speaking to the Independent, Mr Onwubiko said: "When we got to the airport, they realised that they didn't have my wheelchair. Then they had this discussion about whether it was going to be safe for them to lift me on to the plane and escort me back to Lagos where I would have to fend for myself without a wheelchair."

"One of them was a medic and they said it wouldn't be right to send me back without a wheelchair – so they drove me all the way back to Colnbrook. I was very relieved because the idea of having to make my way out of Lagos without a wheelchair was very frightening."

As with many of these types of cases, it also emerged that Mr Onwubiko was being deported despite still having an appeal on his immigration status waiting to be heard by the High Court. However, his case is not due to be heard until sometime in the summer and the Home Office consider it expedient to deport people in situations such as this despite the full legal process not having been exhausted. Saves money you see, and people can always return to the UK if their court cases are successful, assuming that is that they are still alive and can raise the air fare.

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