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28th March, 2005

Ireland: "My ordeal in Nigeria"

Kunle’s statement to Lagos press conference

After a short, but very high profile campaign, the Irish government was forced to reverse the brutal deportation of Elukanlo Olukunle (Kunle), a refugee from Nigeria who is now a secondary school student in Ireland. Kunle was deported in his school uniform and flown to Lagos where he was simply dumped. Immediately his fellow school students began a campaign to bring him back that was taken up by Joe Higgins, a member of the Irish parliament for the Socialist Party, the Irish affiliate of the Committee for a Workers’ International of which the DSM is the Nigerian affiliate. Following the Irish Justice Minister’s decision to allow him back into Ireland Elukanlo Olukunle spoke at a press conference in Lagos on 25 March.

I have called this conference to thank my friends and school mates in Palmerstown Community School in Dublin who have been protesting and picketing over my unjust deportation to Nigeria by Irish government on March 15, 2005. I also wish to use this medium to thank the Socialist Party members, especially Joe Higgins TD, for their solidarity and support since my unjust deportation. For instance, Joe had contacted members of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), an affiliate of Committee for A Workers International (CWI) in Nigeria, to secure me an accommodation and oversee my upkeep as all these efforts have contributed immensely to force Irish government to review this injustice and consequently, recall me.

MY ORDEAL IN NIGERIA

I had got a date, March 31, 2005 for my deportation to Nigeria and had to go to immigration centre on March 15, 2005 to lodge an appeal. From there, I was arrested and detained at Cloverhill Prison in Dublin. In the night, I was taken to Airport in Dublin without allowing me see or speak to my lawyer. There was no accusation against me and I was not given any paper to sign.

Gentlemen of the Press, I, along with 25 other adults and 9 children were put on a charted flight to Lagos from where we were locked up at Alagbon Prison. I was lucky to bail myself out through the assistance of one of the inmates who sympathized with my condition. I left the prison and had nowhere to go. In the process of walking around, I ran into some gangsters who thought I had money on me. I was attacked and molested. After this, I flagged down an incoming vehicle. The man stopped and I explained my situation to him. He took me to his house. There was no electricity, my cloths were already torn and was starving with no medication for injuries I had sustained.

I am very happy to inform you that on Thursday, March 24, 2005, I have been recalled by Irish government. I have however called this conference to draw the attention of the public to the victims of similar injustice who are not privileged to be lucky like me.

We are made to believe that the world is a global village. But it seems this assertion is meant for the rich. The rich could move their capital and investment around the world. They could relocate to live anywhere around the world. But for the poor working people, it is another ball game entirely. How could I have justified my years of schooling in Dublin and only be deported when I am due to write my Leaving Certificate examination in June, 2005? Many people have been deported in this manner and could have likely committed suicide as they will not be allowed to take a pin. In most cases, they are not allowed to take their children along. This could be frustrating.

I therefore use this medium to appeal to Irish government in particular and other governments in all the continents of the world to review their immigration policies to be more humane.

Once again, I thank all my school mates in Dublin, the Irish Socialist Party and its sister organisation in Nigeria, Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) for their support and solidarity. Without these people, I would have been wasted.

Thank you all.

Elukanlo Olukunle