Straw facing row over dissident

A political and legal row was looming for Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, yesterday after a Nigerian dissident with long-standing links and a family in Britain was refused entry clearance to return here.

Abdul Onibiyo first came to Britain in 1964 and was granted permanent residency 10 years later. He had worked for many years as a civil engineer in local government but was told in 1983 that he and his wife Joyce had lost their right to remain here because they spent two years out of the country in the early 70s.

The last Conservative government refused reinstatement of the residency and in 1995 removed Mr Onibiyo, a high-profile opponent of the Abacha regime. The couple's youngest son, 18-year-old Ade, who had been born in Nigeria, was removed last year. At the 11th hour, campaigners secured him a safe haven in Guyana but the Guyanan government has asked whether he can be returned to Britain. Campaigners for the family fear that he too might be sent to Nigeria.

After her husband's removal, Mrs Onibiyo, who still lives in Britain, heard nothing for 18 months until she got a telephone call saying he had escaped from prison in Nigeria and was hiding in a neighbouring country.

Mike O'Brien, the immigration minister, notified Mrs Onibiyo on Thursday that an application for entry clearance by her husband had been refused.

Michaela Loebner, of the Onibiyo Family Anti-Deportation Campaign, said that when in opposition many Labour MPs had pledged their support for reuniting the family. Solicitors for the family are preparing to apply for a judicial review.

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