On International Refugee Day, a rally is being held to support Bridget O’Koro and her daughter Osaivibie from Nigeria. It is being held in Drumchapel Park beside the shopping Centre at Helca Avenue at 2pm. The 3D Centre in Drumchapel are coordinating the rally and it is supported by the local community, the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees and the Unity Centre.
Bridget O’Koro and her three year old daughter Osaivibie have been in detention for six weeks and are desperate to return home to Glasgow. They were detained during a dawn raid at their home in Drumchapel by six Immigration Officers on 12th May. Her lawyer managed to stop their removal to Nigeria on the 16th May and she and Osaivibie have been held at Yarlswood Detention Centre since then. A Judicial Review of her case has been refused by the Home Office and it is highly likely that they will be given new removal directions to Nigeria soon.
Bridget had to flee Nigeria because she’d had a relationship with a man who was not a member of her Hausa tribe and was not a Muslim like her. When she became pregnant her father and members of the local Islamic Council threatened to kill her.
Five months after Bridget arrived in the UK, her daughter, Osaivibie, was born in October 2004. In March 2005, Bridget and her daughter had their asylum case refused by the Home Office. Then in November 2005, one week after her daughter’s first birthday, and after living in Manchester for eighteen months, Bridget and her year old baby were told to come to live in Glasgow.
In August 2006, Bridget and her daughter were told to voluntarily self check in at Glasgow airport for a removal flight back to Nigeria. Unable to get her lawyer to help her in the short time available, Bridget did not go to the airport. Terrified that she and her daughter would be arrested by immigration officials and put in a detention centre the next time she went to report because she had not gone to the airport, Bridget stopped going to report at the Home Office.
In August last year, the Home Office sent Bridget and her daughter a questionnaire as part of the ‘legacy review’ process being carried out on asylum cases made before April 2007.
Two weeks before Christmas, Bridget was given a letter telling her that her application for leave to remain under the legacy review had been refused on the grounds that she and her daughter “have not resided long enough in the UK to have established any significant strength of connections,” and because she had failed to go and report for 10 months.
Bridget should not be punished because she failed to go to the voluntary self-check in at Glasgow airport a year ago. As a young single mother with a twenty one month old daughter she was terrified about being forced to return to Nigeria.
Bridget urgently needs our support. It is not true to say that Bridget has not been in the UK long enough to make significant connections with the local community – she has lived here for four years and has made many friends in the local community and many families who have not lived here for as long have been given leave to remain by the Legacy review.
“Deporting Bridget and Osaivbie to Nigeria would be a tragedy. Bridget has made a new life for herself and her daughter here in Drumchapel, and indeed, Osaivibie has lived her whole life in the UK. Bridget and Osaivibie are very much a part of the community here, involved in the church (St.Laurence’s), and at 3D (a local family project). They have integrated well, have made friends, and get on so well with the people around them: they belong to our community. Surely 4 years and overwhelming evidence of active and enthusiastic involvement in their community is enough to establish significant connection? I would urge the Home Office to reconsider the decision taken to deport Bridget and Osaivibie, and to consider the implications of this decision for Bridget and Osaivibie, and also for their friends and community. There is a deep sense of upset and injustice amongst people here over the way Bridget and Osaivibie have been treated, and we would all love to have them back with us soon.”
John Purves (Minister, Drumchapel St.Andrew’s Church; director, 3D Drumchapel)
For more information please contact Sharon at 3D Drumchapel (0141 944 5740) or the Unity Centre (0141 427 7992)