A family of Nigerians who failed their asylum claim in Ireland twelve years ago, defied their deportation order and were last refused a Leave To Remain appeal in June, 2018 have been allowed to stay in Ireland after school children were used in a campaign against their deportation.
Nonso Muojeke, now 14 years old and a student at Tullamore College, and brother Victor who attends college in Limerick, sought asylum here along with their mother in 2006. They were aged two and seven at the time.
Mrs. Muojeke had become a widow in Nigeria and said she then became the property of her husband’s brother, as a custom. The grounds for her asylum claim in Ireland was that she said she had been seriously mistreated by that brother and the rest of the family. Not mentioned in any report is why the Nigerian authorities could not resolve her complaint or how many safe countries she travelled through en route to Ireland.
They lived in a hostel in the Direct Provision System in Dublin before being moved to County Laois. Their asylum application was turned down in 2009. Mrs. Muojeke then says she requested the solicitor on the case to file an appeal within the 15 days allowed, but this never happened.
A Deportation Order was then issued and the family moved to Tullamore where Mrs. Muojeke said she tried to get her file back from the original solicitor.
Joe.ie reported that "after a very long time she succeeded and, finally, Mr. John Gerard Cullen took up her case and appealed to the Minister of Justice in 2015."
The Minister refused their Leave to remain in 2017. The reasons given included that the older boy will settle well if returned to Nigeria as he settled well, aged seven, when he came to Ireland. Also, it was stated that the severe mental trauma suffered by the children is not a ground for granting Humanitarian Leave to remain. The issue of the best interests of the children was not considered a relevant matter.
This year, students of the boys' school created a video in which they argued their that the Muojekes should not have to abide by their deportation order.
The video was watched 1,400 times on youtube.
Nonso's Teacher Joe Caslin commented:
"All this talk of setting a precedent and 'opening the floodgates', well I would argue that if there are more children like this, like Nonso, that they should be allowed stay in Ireland too. It can only be a couple of hundred children. That's what we have to face up to and we have to take responsibility here."
Deputy Barry Cowen (FF) also wrote to the Minister for Justice requesting that he uses his right as Minister to grant leave to remain for the Muojeke family.
“I do not believe that the decision to not grant them Humanitarian Leave to remain in 2017 was right or proper. Minister Fitzgerald, the then Justice Minister, by not ensuring that the best interests of the children were taken into account, failed to do the right thing.
“The family are not a burden on the State, have never claimed social welfare benefits or indeed Children’s Allowance, and have always attempted to deal honestly with the INIS and Department."
“I am imploring the Minister to do the right thing by Mrs Muojeke, and her two sons, Victor and Nonso, and let them stay in the country that they now call home.”
- In the span of five years, €700 million Euro was spent on accommodation costs and legal fees for asylum seekers by the state in Ireland.
- In the first six months of 2015, only 5 out of every 100 asylum seekers were deemed genuine.
- However, 80% of failed asylum seekers are never deported.
- Nigerians send nearly €500m a year home from Ireland. That's an average of more than €26,000 for each of the 17,642 Nigerian nationals in Ireland, including children.
"Most Nigerians in Europe are simply seeking a more comfortable life."
In 2000, a Nigerian priest visited Ireland and remarked on the number of Nigerian asylum seekers: "I find it peculiar that those who claim to be fleeing unrest in Nigeria are here, rather than in any of the many stable places in Nigeria, a country many times bigger than Ireland with a population of 126 million. Real refugees can't afford the exorbitant air fares to get here. Most Nigerians in Europe are simply seeking a more comfortable life."
The president of Nigeria has said Nigerians who had joined the migrant exodus to Europe were doing so purely for economic reasons rather than because they were in danger and their reputation for crime has made them unwelcome.