A Royal Court of Justice (RCJ) in the United Kingdom on Tuesday heard arguments against deportation by a Nigerian woman, Ronke Apata, who claims that her life will not be safe in Nigeria.
Thrice married, 47-year-old Apata claims to be a lesbian. She entered the UK in 2004 with a forged Swaziland passport.
The RCJ, UK’s equivalent of Nigeria’s Supreme Court, has reserved judgement in the matter. The judge of the court, John Bowers QC (Queen’s Counsel), heard the judicial review case in which she is asking that her deportation order from the United Kingdom be quashed on the grounds that she is a lesbian and a refugee and that her life will be in serious danger if she’s removed from the UK to Nigeria, particularly now that anti-gay law is in operation in Nigeria.
Two of her former marriages were in the UK, and she had previously been refused indefinite leave to stay based on those two marriages – one of which was to a Briton, the other to a Mr Bamidele. Her third marriage is to a European national.
She told the court through her lawyer Abid Mahmood that even while living in Nigeria, her life was in danger and she had to conceal her sexuality. Her lawyer also told the court that it took Apata years to come out as a lesbian even in the UK.
However, the Crown’s lawyer, one Mr Bird, picked holes in her argument, saying if she was truly a lesbian, she would have come out openly before March 2014 when the deportation processes began. Bird argued that after all, geria. He also reminded the judge that the lower courts had found her claim of being a lesbian not credible.
Mahmood also argued that Apata is an LGBT – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual – activist and that because of her activism and association with the social group, she may be tortured in Nigeria if the Home Secretary is allowed to go ahead with the deportation order, which had been served on her twice. Her lawyer also threw into the basket of arguments the international obligations to which the UK is a signatory, arguing that she ought to be protected from deportation to Nigeria.
But the Crown lawyer prayed the court to dismiss her application, arguing that her human rights will not in any way be breached and that the UK is not obliged to provide refuge for a foreign national who entered the country fraudulently. He prayed the court to uphold the rulings of the earlier courts and to allow the Secretary of State go ahead with the deportation. Bird argued further that the UK would not be breaching either her Refugee Conventions Rights or her Human Rights, having fraudulently entered the country in 2004 with a forged Swaziland passport.