[sheffield-noborders] Urgent: help stop deportation

stuart crosthwaite stuartqqqq at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Mar 1 11:05:45 GMT 2007

Call to stop deportation from Union General Secretary

Dear Colleagues/Comrades (undisclosed list)
I should be most grateful if you could ask someone to give this urgent consideration.
Alphonsus Uche Okafor-Mefor is presently being held in a detention centre, and is due to be flown back this Thursday 1 March to Nigeria where he has previously been detained and tortured.  This case is of particular relevance to trade unionists as he was due to speak at a forthcoming 'No One Is Illegal' Trade Union Conference, of which UCU is a sponsor. He is a leading figure in the campaign group Asylum voice who have campaigned against the abuses suffered by asylum seekers. 

The information from NCADC below gives you details of his background as a trade union and political activist and of his current case.  He will be in imminent danger if deported, and trade unionists are asked to: 

(1) Email  Liam Byrne: Minister for State for Nationality, Citizenship & Immigration at byrnel at parliament.uk. Ask the case be reconsidered. Quote reference number M1320887 Alphonsus Uche Okafor-Mefor Fax: 020 7035 4745 Telephone: 0121 789 7287

(2) Email Virgin Atlantic Airlines asking that they do not participate in the forced removal of Alphonsus on Thursday 1st March at 22.00 Virgin Atlantic Flight VS651 to Nigeria from Heathrow.FAX Customer Relations : 08701 900959 EMAIL:Customer.relations at fly.virgin.com

(3) Email Peter Kilfoyle M.P. kilfoylep at parliament.uk Telephone: House of Commons Phone number- 020 7219 2591
Constituency Phone number: 0151 284 4150
Constituency Fax number: 0151 284 4150

Please pass this on to as many people as possible. 
I regret I will not be available to answer queries on this tomorrow (Wednesday) as we have a lobby of Parliament against the cuts in ESOL .
Paul Mackney
UCU joint general secretary

UCU is the largest trade union and professional association for tutors, lecturers, trainers, researchers and academic-related staff working in adult, further and higher education throughout the UK
  Background information about Alphonsus
   NCADC News Service

  Alphonsus Uche Okafor-Mefor from Nigeria, who continued his political activism in the UK due to be deported tomorrow

  Alphonsus Uche Okafor-Mefor is currently detained at Manchester Airport and is due to be deported by force to Nigeria tomorrow on Virgin Atlantic Flight VS651 from Heathrow at 22.00 hours.

  Alphonsus was detained on Monday 26th February 2007 at Reliance House in Liverpool when he went to his regular signing.

  Alphonus was due to speak at a major rally on immigration controls in Liverpool on March 31st being organised by the 'No One Is Illegal' coalition.

  Alphonsus is an Igbo from the southeast area of Biafra and belongs to MASSOB (Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra) an un-armed non-violent movement that advocates a separate state of Biafra. The Federal Government of Nigeria the banned MASSOB in 2001.
Alphonsus was detained and tortured following attendance of a MASSOB meeting in Nigeria.

Extracts from the Home Office Operational Guidance Note on Nigeria (issued 18 January 2007);

"In the southeast over 600 people were arrested and detained during 2005 on suspicion of being members of MASSOB"

"... those that take part in illegal demonstrations or other illegal activities [e.g. raising the "Biafra" flag or being in possession of "Biafra" currency] may face arrest and prosecution for any offences that have been committed"

  "Demonstrations in September 2005, following Biafra Day on 26 August 2005, claimed a reported 6 lives although other local reports indicated as many as 200 may have been killed by police. Ralph Uwazurike, the leader of the group, was arrested in October 2005 along with 6 of his deputies on treason charges."

"According to MASSOB figures, more than 100 MASSOB supporters were in detention as of March 2006"

Alphonsus originally claimed asylum in the UK in April 2005 when the political situation in Nigeria deteriorated.

  He has continued to actively campaign in the UK through the Biafran Actualisation Forum (BAF) to highlight the abuse and persecution of the Biafran people and what he describes as the brutal murder of MASSOB members and Igbos by the Nigerian government forces.

Alphonsus was involved in the disruption by Biafran activists in the UK of a conference in Westminster to formally launch the Heart of Africa project of the Federal Ministry of Information. Reports indicated that there were no fewer than eight Nigerian Ministers at the conference.

As a consequence he is known to the Nigerian government and faces imminent danger if he is returned.

  Yet the Home Office is ignoring these dangers, despite it's own policy as set out in the Operational Guidance Note which recognises that "As this category of claimants' fear is of ill-treatment by the Federal Government, they cannot apply to these authorities for protection" and "relocation to a different area of Nigeria to escape this threat is not feasible".  The Operational Guidance Note states;
  "The leadership of MASSOB, i.e. "those that energise and mobilise support for the movement", and those affiliated with the leaders, are at risk of arrest and detention by the authorities on account of their political opinion."

"If it is accepted that the claimant has had significant political involvement in MASSOB and has previously come to the adverse attention of the authorities, then a grant of asylum is likely to be appropriate"

  Alphonsus is also a leading figure in Asylum Voice who have campaigned against the abuses suffered by asylum seekers as a direct consequence of the inhumane asylum system in the UK. He has spoken extensively at numerous public, political and trade union meetings.  He was due to speak at an event on immigration controls in Liverpool on March 31st being organised by the No One Is Illegal coalition. It is ironic that Alphonus is himself now being victimised and being subject to immediate removal.
Alphonsus currently has a fresh claim for asylum pending with the Home Office, which has not been considered.

What you can do:

  Fax Liam Byrne, the Immigration Minister, asking that Alphonsus' fresh claim be considered, that he be recognised as a MASSOB member who has mobilised support, and as such should be granted asylum according to the Home Office's own policy. You can use the attached model fax (AlphonsusMinister.doc) or write your own fax (please include Alphonsus' Home Office ref. no. M1320887)

Fax: 020 7035 4745 or from outside the UK + 44 20 7035 4745

Fax Virgin Atlantic Airlines asking that they do not participate in the forced removal of Alphonsus.  You can use the attached model fax (AlphonsusVirgin.doc) or write your own fax (please include details of the flight VS651 from Heathrow at 22.00 hours tomorrow)

Fax: 08701 900959 or from outside the UK + 44 8701 900959

Please email copies of any faxes sent to the Alphonsus Must Stay Campaign on jason2inethiopia at yahoo.co.uk

End of Bulletin:

Source for this Message:
  Alphonsus Must Stay Campaign

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