A Nigerian who claims to be a gay seeking asylum in the United Kingdom has begged the British government not to deport him to Nigeria as his life is in danger and he may be killed if he is deported.
The 43-year-old Nigerian man, Adeniji Raji, told the UK Home Office that his life is in grave danger as he has been ‘receiving death threats on social media and attacked several times’ after he was caught with his gay partner by his ex-wife.
In an exclusive report carried by London-based Nigerian Standard Newspaper, Raji is fighting the British Home Office to remain in the UK and has been fending off deportation threat hanging around his neck.
Raji said he is afraid that by sending him back to Nigeria, he is certain to end up in jail for the rest of his life or he could be killed as the Nigerian society and law frowns at practitioners of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Community.
Investigations by Nigerian Standard revealed that Raji had fled Nigeria to Britain to avoid prosecution for being gay and is now facing deportation after being held for six months in an immigration detention centre.
Raji fled the city of Lagos and on arrival in the UK, claimed asylum and was immediately detained at Harmondsworth and Tinsley House detention centres.
He was recently given bail and released from detention.
Narrating his plight, Raji said:
“I decided to come to the UK to seek refuge and humanitarian protection because my life was in danger in Nigeria.
I was attacked on several occasions. My ex-wife caught me and my former partner in bed. As soon as she saw us, she immediately raised the alarm.
People gathered and started beating us severely. After that, she divorced me.”
He added that his employer in Lagos sacked him for being gay while the police started publishing his pictures and declared him wanted.
“The Nigerian police started publishing my pictures and my name in the Nigerian national dailies. They kept saying that anyone who has useful information that could lead to my arrest should come forward so that I can face the wrath of the land as a result of my sexual orientations.”
He insisted that threats against him on on social media in Nigeria included comments such as:
“I really wish you were killed that very day …”
“You know gay practice is an abomination in our land …”
“You better stop your gay practice, if not you could get yourself killed in this country.”
A first-tier immigration tribunal has, however, rejected his asylum application and Raji says he is appealing against that decision.
Reacting to the case, Bisi Alimi, a Nigerian-born British citizen who runs a UK-based campaign supporting LGBT rights in his home country, has criticised the Home Office’s treatment of gay asylum seekers.
“They are often treated as liars. It becomes their responsibility to prove that they are gay and that that will put their lives at risk.
In Nigeria, people put a tyre around your neck and burn you, and no one cares; or beat you until you die, and no one cares. The Home Office doesn’t believe in the impact of threats from non-state actors.
Most of the time, it’s difficult to prove anyone is gay because they live their private lives in hiding. Most don’t have a life history of being openly gay.
There’s been an increase in the number of Nigerians seeking asylum in the UK on the basis of their sexuality.”
Raji’s solicitor, Bhaveshri Patel-Chandegra, an immigration specialist at the law firm Duncan Lewis, said:
“The court has looked at his case and nullified all his evidence that he is at serious risk if removed to Nigeria but there’s been no evidence that his documents aren’t genuine.”
A Home Office spokesperson said:
“The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and each claim is carefully considered on its individual merits.
We have worked closely with organisations and charities, including Stonewall, the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, and the UN high commissioner for refugees to improve our guidance and training for asylum caseworkers.”
Home Office figures published last year show there were 362 such applications from Nigerians in the 21 months from July 2015 to March 2017. Of those, only 63 were allowed to remain in the UK after a tribunal hearing, the rest, 81%, were refused permission to stay.