Nigerian prince: 'I'd rather be sent back to my torturers than stay in a detention centre'

Asylum-seeker begs to be returned to the country where he suffered gunshot wounds and beatings

Home Affairs Editor,Robert Verkaik
Thursday 04 February 2010 01:01

A Nigerian prince who fled to Britain after being tortured in a tribal dispute over his family's claim to a royal throne has now begged the Home Office to send him home.

Prince Ademola Babatunde Bakare alleges that his treatment as an asylum-seeker in the UK is worse than his experience in Nigeria, where he suffered gunshot wounds to his kneecaps and violent beatings.

The 37-year-old prince came to Britain in 2008 after mistakenly boarding a ship he thought was bound for Canada, where he had arranged to join his wife and children.

But when he reported himself to the UK authorities he was arrested and sentenced to prison for travelling with false documents. During his year-long detention he claims he did not receive proper medical treatment for his gunshot wounds.

He alleges that the conditions of his detention are another form of torture which has forced him to ask the Government to send him back to Nigeria even though he says he faces further persecution when he arrives. In letters to the UK authorities, he argues he would be better looked after in Nigeria and says: "I didn't want to come to this useless country in the first place."

In another letter to his advisers he complains: "The Home Office is using my illness to torture me. I am a torture survivor and am still suffering seriously from my past torture, which I needed proper standard medical care."

Prince Bakare is a member of the Ajike royal family, one of three competing royal families in the city of Owo. In February 1999, when Olateru Olagbegi III was installed as the new king of Owo, Prince Bakare's family challenged Olagbegi's legitimacy. This led to violent disputes between the two families, and Prince Bakare and his family found themselves caught in the middle.

He claims that in 2004 his wife was raped and stabbed in the back, his three-year-old son burned with boiling water and his house set on fire. In January 2008, Prince Bakare and his uncle, Chief Ademiyi Bayo Ajike, fled to Benin to escape further violence. But the uncle was tortured, shot and bled to death, while Prince Bakare was wounded in the legs and had his ribs broken.

Forced to flee Africa, Prince Bakare arrived in Britain in March 2008 but was arrested for using forged documents. He spent six months in prison before being transferred to Brook House immigration removal centre, in Sussex.

A doctor who examined the Prince in September last year found "strong clinical evidence in the form of many scars and other lesions, including gunshot wounds to both legs, which show that there is a reasonable likelihood that he has been the victim of organised violence". He further reported that his patient showed "strong evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder".

During his detention Prince Bakare says he was given inadequate medical treatment. This led him to contact his MP, Nick Raynsford (Labour, Greenwich & Woolwich), who wrote to immigration minister Phil Woolas on 4th November 2009 asking why G4S, the private company in charge of his detention, had failed to take Prince Bakare to a medical appointments and an appeal hearing.

On November 30th last year, the minister replied saying that "due to resourcing and unforeseen circumstance that arose [on the two occasions the MP had highlighted], G4S were

unable to provide the transportation required to take Mr Bakare to the appointments booked." Mr Woolas said that, "as a result of these missed appointments, G4S has been asked to review their procedures and has put into places processes, which have been approved by the UK Border Agency, which will stop this occurring again."

Matthew Coats, head of Immigration, said: "The UK Border Agency will not tolerate abuse of our asylum and immigration systems and we will return those here illegally. We consider every individual case with enormous care and where someone needs our protection, we will grant it and do so proudly.

"It is however reasonable to expect people who have been found by the independent courts not to need asylum to return home."

Last night it emerged that Prince Bakare may get his wish, when it was reported that he had been served with travel documents for a return flight to Nigeria.

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