Student protesters at the University of Sussex have reportedly taken over part of an on-campus conference centre over the Home Office’s decision to deport a student, Luqman Onikosi, back to Nigeria.
According to reports and images surfacing on Twitter, students have taken to the balcony of Bramber House and flown banners while chanting: “Don’t Deport Luqman.”
A video has also emerged of the moment students stormed the building as they chanted: “Luqman is here to stay, let’s deport Theresa May.”
Speaking with the Independent last month, Mr Onikosi, a former MA student of global political economy at the university, urged the Government to see him as “an equal human being,” insisting the Home Office would be sending him “back to a death sentence” in his home country.
At the time, in a statement to the Independent, a Home Office spokesperson said all cases were considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules.
The spokesperson had added: “The individual’s application was fully considered and has been through the appeal process. An independent immigration judge found that he has no right to remain in the UK.”
Mr Luqman had described how, last year, in the final stages of his masters, his right to study was withdrawn due to demand from the Home Office, and said: “If even my rights as a ‘cash cow’ are denied, what a dire situation it is.”
Talking about how he entered the UK in 2007 to study at the university, Mr Onikosi told the Independent: “I was subsequently diagnosed with a chronic liver condition brought on by Hepatitis B. In Nigeria, there is not the medical infrastructure required to keep me alive. My battle to stay in the UK on medical grounds, in other words, is a fight to stay alive.
“In 2011, and then 2012, my two brothers in Nigeria died of complications brought on by the same illness. The same fate now awaits me, unless the Home Office reverses its decision to refuse me leave to remain in the UK. I believe it is barbaric to send a third member of my family, me, to my death.”
A crowdfunding cause is currently ongoing as part of the #DontDeportLuqman campaign. So far, almost $4,000 (£2,810) has been raised. The donation page says: “He needs money to seek further legal advice. Anything you can spare will go towards, quite literally, keeping Luqman alive.”
Callum Cant, a member of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and organiser of the fundraiser, recently told the Independent the Home Office had demonstrated its determination to deport people in similar situations previously.
Mr Cant said: “Luqman’s fight against deportation is part of a wider struggle against state violence and the border regime in communities and on campuses around the country.”
A University of Sussex spokesperson told the Independent: “We understand the group of students are supporters of Mr Onikosi, a former student of the university. The students are currently based in a conference room in one of our buildings.
“We are, and have always been, very sorry to know of Mr Onikosi’s illness. The status of Mr Onikosi’s visa is a directive from the Home Office, and the university is not able to influence that decision in any way.”
The Home Office has also been contacted for comment.
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