FGM victim Afusat Saliu and her daughters 'will be deported to Nigeria tonight' despite fears for their safety

Saliu fears her daughters are at risk of the female genital mutilation she endured before fleeing the country

A mother and her two young children who are allegedly at “serious risk” of female genital mutilation (FGM) will be deported to Nigeria after 7pm tonight, her lawyers have said, despite fears for their safety and nationwide calls to halt their deportation.

More than 125,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Home Office to suspend her removal from Britain but despite this Afusat Saliu, 31, was taken into custody with her daughters by UK Border Agency staff on Wednesday and has been told she will be flown back to Nigeria tonight.

Ms Saliu - herself a victim of FGM - fears her children will be cut and she will be forced to marry a man against her will if she returns to her native country.

She told The Independent in April that she was fighting to stay on behalf of her children. “It’s so scary. I don’t want them going through the same pain I went through,” she said.

Anj Handa, a close friend of Ms Saliu, said the whole family has been detained in a removal centre for six days and her solicitors have been able to speak with her directly since yesterday. She said she and her daughters have been forced to sleep on the floor in the detention centre.

Read more: Richard Branson pressured to halt FGM deportation of Afusat Saliu

Her case made headlines last week when it emerged Virgin Atlantic could have been the carrier initially due to fly the family back last Thursday, just weeks after Holly Branson published a blog post on the Virgin Unite website calling on the public to "join me in standing against FGM".

A spokesperson for the airline refused to comment today on whether they would be taking Ms Saliu and her family back tonight.

Ms Handa told The Independent that Ms Saliu, who has no immediate family in Nigeria, has been offered two days in hostel accommodation when she arrives there, and after that point she has been advised to make her way to an aid centre.

Ms Saliu could be targeted by Boko Haram militants, she added, because of her conversion to Christianity when she moved to Leeds three years ago. Ms Saliu's father was allegedly killed by the group.

Ms Handa, who set up the initial Change.org petition said: “We have been thwarted at every turn and the Government has failed on so many counts in this case. The Home Office has failed to stick to its own guidelines on so many counts and have failed Afusat and her daughters miserably.

Bhumika Parmar, of BP Legal who is representing Ms Saliu, said: “Over the last few days we have been working and fighting desperately and tried very avenue for the Government to hear her case but it seems they are determined to send her back.

“It’s been a very tough few days for Afusat and her daughters and you can just vulnerable they are and how they have been affected by this ongoing saga.

"We have been told that Afusat and daughters will be sent home today although they haven’t given us an exact time. We haven’t been able to get hold of Afusat but will continue to make the case for her and will continue our appeals.”

Ms Saliu fled from Nigeria in 2011 after her stepmother allegedly threatened to subject Bassy to female genital mutilation. She was heavily pregnant at the time.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: "We consider every claim for asylum on its individual merits and in this case the claimant was not considered to be in need of protection.

"The case has gone through the proper legal process and our decision has been supported by the UK courts on five separate occasions, while the European Court of Human Rights declined an application to halt the removal.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness