Abused Nigerian kicked out

Feds hasten exit from Canada

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The federal government sped up its removal of an abused Nigerian woman to make sure she wouldn't get a chance to stay and argue she's at risk if returned to her troubled country and painful past.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/11/2014 (2894 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The federal government sped up its removal of an abused Nigerian woman to make sure she wouldn’t get a chance to stay and argue she’s at risk if returned to her troubled country and painful past.

On Wednesday, Oluyemisi Akinbinu, 50, was sent back to the country she left 11 years ago.

“She had no idea about what was awaiting her when she got home,” said her pastor, Al Gordon, who drove Akinbinu to the airport Wednesday morning.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files Oluyemisi Akinbinu, in Canada since 2003, was flown back to Nigeria before she could apply for an assessment and stay here.

She arrived in Canada in 2003 when she was recruited to work as a nurse at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre. Under a cloud of misfortune and failed attempts to stay in Canada, including a refugee claim, she was told she had to return to Nigeria Nov. 2.

On Oct. 26, she learned she was being shipped out Oct. 29. The removal officer said he booked her on an earlier flight to make sure she was gone from Canada within a year of Oct. 31, 2013 — the date her refugee claim was rejected. Otherwise, she would’ve been able to stay and apply for a pre-removal risk assessment — a chance to explain the risks she faced in Nigeria, including her abusive husband who’d taken a second wife and Boko Haram, a terrorist group opposed to western values such as education, that’s targeted Christians like her.

In 2012, the Conservative government began barring rejected refugee claimants from applying for a pre-removal risk assessment for one year under the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act. It said the change was intended to enable faster removal of failed refugee claimants, such as Akinbinu.

A pre-removal risk assessment would have required an officer to review her application to see if there is a risk of persecution as defined in the Geneva Convention, the danger of torture, or the risk she may be subjected to cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

“Canada is committed to ensuring that people being removed from Canada are not sent to a country where they would be in danger or at risk of persecution,” Citizenship and Immigration Canada says.

“She got lost in the cracks of the bureaucracy,” said Pastor Gordon of King’s Fellowship. The Winnipeg church helped Akinbinu with moral support and her legal bills.

“It was very sad because we wanted her to stay,” he said. “It would be the right thing for her to stay.”

“She was an honest person and willing to work and could be trusted,” said Gordon. “She wanted to stay and contribute.”

The woman left Nigeria and her two kids in 2003 to work as a nurse in Canada and make a better life for her and her children. She became a single parent after her abusive husband, a medical doctor, took a second wife and literally kicked her out with nothing.

She left her children with her parents in Nigeria and expected to bring them to Canada once she got settled.

After Akinbinu arrived, she learned her children weren’t adjusting well without her. She struggled with that, the stress of being a newcomer and failed the nursing regulatory exam.

‘She got lost in the cracks of the bureaucracy. It was very sad because we wanted her to stay. It would be the right thing for her to stay’

— Pastor Gordon, with King’s Fellowship, the Winnipeg church that helped Oluyemisi Akinbinu with moral support and her legal bills

She found work as a health-care aide and a house cleaner and when her work visa expired, she filed a refugee claim. By that point, she was getting counselling from Mount Carmel Clinic for post-traumatic stress.

Her refugee claim was rejected and she filed for an appeal. That, too, was rejected.

When she was kicked out of Canada, she was waiting for the outcome of her request to the minister of citizenship and immigration to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, said her lawyer, Bashir Khan.

“She was quite upset,” said Khan, who gave her the news she had just two days to prepare to leave Canada. “She said ‘I’m not well at all, sir,’ ” he recalled. “She was in a state of shock at the end when it was over.”

Gordon said when he drove her to the airport Wednesday, the woman who has survived trauma and immense change, steeled herself again for whatever happens in Nigeria.

“She was surprisingly strong.”

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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