Deportation: Nigerian lesbian in UK to know fate in three weeks
A NIGERIAN Lesbian will know whether she will be deported to Nigeria or allowed to stay in the United Kingdom, later this month. Ronke Apata, 47, dragged the Home Secretary before Judge John Bowers QC (Queen’s Counsel) at the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday , where her lawyer prayed the court to declare her a refugee and also make an order quashing those of the lower courts, where she had been adjudged not to be a lesbian ,
Abid Mahmood, her lawyer, told the court that Apata could be tortured and imprisoned in Nigeria, particularly now that the country has anti- gay legislation.
Though Apata had already exhausted all the appeals she could get, having been refused application to remain indefinitely in the UK on two occasions, when she was married to men (one being one Mr. Bamidele (from 2005 to 2008), Mahmood asked the Secretary of State to “have an open mind,” despite the previous immigration irregularities and the attendant two prison convictions of his client, who came to court in the company of Happiness Agboro, her lover.
He also directed the court to consider the mental health of Apata, as another ground for seeking to have the deportation order overturned.
Apata, he argued, might not be able to afford the cost of treating her mental illness in Nigeria.
Mahmood also prayed the judge to use his discretionary power to declare his client a refugee, citing the Human Rights and Refugee Conventions to which the UK is a signatory to, as the basis for which the country will then be obliged to keep her away from the alleged torture that awaits her in Nigeria.
He also pointed to Apata’s activism within the LGBT – Lesbians, Gay, Bisexuals and Transexuals – circles, which according to him, would make her an easy target for torture.
Apata, who was supported to court by placard carrying LGBT activists and supporters – according to him, belongs to one of the groups, which the Refugee Convention said should be protected.
But the lawyer representing the government, Mr. Bird, directed the Judge to consider the rulings made by the lower courts and the fact that the UK has no obligation to prevent a foreign national who forged her way into the country from being deported to their country of birth.
Apata, he argued, has had two sham marriages in this country and was not actually an LGBT activist, despite her getting over 20 thousand people to sign her online petition to stop her deportation.
The court, he argued, “should not be hoodwinked,” and that “how could over 20 thousand people know she’s a lesbian except she told them.”
He argued that Apata could not suddenly become a lesbian after being in three marriages, including the one she contracted in Nigeria, before she entered the UK via forged Swaziland passport in 2004. Apata, meanwhile, was also discredited as an activist by Elizabeth Obisanya, who asked The Guardian: “Where was she when we were campaigning opposite the Nigerian High Commission against the anti-gay legislation passed in Nigeria last year?”
The judge reserved ruling till later this month.