Luqman needs as many letters of support from his supporters as possible to support his Article 8 claim of having a significant ‘private and family life’ here in the UK. These will be presented to the Court in support of Luqman’s case. The most important thing is that these letters are genuine and personalised.
Below is some guidance on writing a letter of support and summary of the background to the case. Luqman has also written his story in his own words.
Please send your letter of support to: email@example.com. If you would like to write a letter but have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email and we will be happy to help.
What the letter should cover
Luqman needs to show that he has a significant ‘private life’ in the UK. All the events and community organising he does are a big part of this claim. The other part is how important Luqman is to you and our community.
The letter should include:
- Your name, address, date of birth, nationality and how long you have been in the UK.
- How you know Luqman, e.g. from one of the many brilliant events he organises, or through his teaching.
- What it would mean to you if Luqman was forced to return to Nigeria.
- Why you want Luqman to say in the UK.
- A copy of your photo ID (we will keep them encrypted/locked up).
Background to the case
Luqman Onikoi came to the UK from Nigeria in 2007 to study for a degree in Economics and International Relations at Sussex University. While studying, he was diagnosed with chronic liver disease as a result of Hepatitis B.
After graduating he worked at the Nigerian High Commission in London until 2012, when his illness flared up, preventing him from working.
Effective treatment for Luqman’s condition, which requires careful monitoring, is not available in Nigeria. He has already lost two brothers, both living in Nigeria, to the same disease.
Luqman applied to the Home Office for Leave to Remain on medical grounds. Theresa May, who was then the Home Secretary, refused and threatened to deport Luqman. A campaign mobilised. With the support of a pro bono lawyer, he was able to submit a fresh application on human rights grounds and remain in the country while his case was considered.
In 2014 a crowdfunding campaign allowed Luqman to return to Sussex University to study for a Master’s in Global Political Economy. In May 2015, while he was writing his dissertation, the university was informed by the Home Office that he no longer had the right to study – even with crowdfunders paying his fees – because his application to stay in the UK had been rejected. The university suspended him and bad health forced Luqman back into hospital for 3 months.
Luqman was never informed by the Home Office of the rejection of his application. Only in early 2016 did he obtain a copy of his rejection letter, which was dated May 2015.
Luqman made more fresh submissions to the Home Office, and although they were rejected, Luqman’s lawyers threatened to take the government to court (judicial review). The Home Office acknowledged that they had made a mistake. Although they maintain that it was not in the public interest to let Luqman stay, he was granted a right to appeal.
He will be in court on November 15th 2018 to argue for his life.
Luqman’s story in his own words
I grew up in northern Nigeria but left eleven years ago after becoming disenfranchised. I had to leave Nigeria to study overseas because I was involved in campaign for rights to education and I was the cordinator for a movement called Education Right Campaign, Nigeria in the Ekiti State University Ado Ekiti where I was studying for Business Administration. On one occassion the students protested the government policy on education on tuition fees an d the protracted academic strike. The government deplored the police and they open fire on the crowd of students. Fellow students were killed, brutalised and one of my close friends was shot in the eyes but luckily he survived. As a result, I did not feel that the Country was a safe place for me to be any more.
I also felt a strong sense of disenfranchisement which led to frustration. I felt that the elite that ran Nigeria were deliberately underfunding the public sector, mainly the education and the health system, to undermine young people from humble backgrounds so that they did not have the opportunity to change the country. It was not safe to engage in activism against this as the government were prepared to kill young people protesting for a better future.
I left for the UK to study at the University of Sussex, where I completed an undergraduate degree in economics and international relations, before embarking on a master’s degree. I had an audacious dream to return to Nigeria and use the knowledge I acquired at university to fight for social justice.
Getting to the UK in the first place was not easy. Like the majority of people who apply to visit or study in the UK from an African country, my initial application was rejected and it was only after three appeals that the Home Office finally granted me permission to study here. Had I not been so passionate about education I may not have persevered with fighting against all the roadblocks the Home Office placed in my path.
In 2008, while in the UK, I began to feel unwell. After a series of tests I was diagnosed with the blood-borne virus hepatitis B. I have no idea how I contracted it although it might have been from sharing razor blades back in Nigeria. Everything changed after I was diagnosed. Unfortunately my condition is quite advanced and so my only option for long-term survival is a liver transplant. In the meantime my condition needs to be closely monitored. The treatment I need to keep me alive is not available in Nigeria.
Tragically my two brothers also contracted the disease and died from it in 2011 and 2012. It is hard to describe what a huge impact their loss has had on my life. Since then my mental health has deteriorated.
My brothers were unable to access specialist monitoring and treatment to manage their illnesses in Nigeria. If their condition had been monitored and if they had access to the right treatment, I believe the early death of my brothers could have been prevented. Aside from grief, their loss has served as a stark reminder of what fate lies ahead for me if I am forced to return. I would be in the same situation as them and I have every reason to believe my life expectancy would also be dramatically cut short.
The distress that removal from the UK would cause me would be immediate and immeasurable; I do not have the ability to withstand this level of distress and I am worried that I would react in a way that would endanger my life and / or my well-being. I am also worried about the impact upon my mother and sister if they are forced to witness the inevitable deterioration of my physical and mental health if I am forced to return to Nigeria. My mother is unwell herself and my sister is responsible for my mother’s day-to-day care. Their mental state is already fragile in light of theproblems they currently face. I will only contribute to a further weakening of their mental states if I am forced to return to a country where I am doomed to suffer the same fate as my brothers.
My student visa expired in 2011 and I applied to remain in the UK on medical grounds. Since then I have been involved in a series of unsuccessful appeals over many years with the Home Office who have rejected my claim for leave to remain.
The Home Office is tightening immigration rules all the time, the outcome of which is the “Hostile Environment”. My university cannot support me to finish the final part of my master’s because if it does so it will be in breach of the immigration rules and might have its licence revoked. In 2013, a campaign was launched to appeal to the Home Office to let me remain in the UK.
I am not a health tourist who has parachuted into the UK in search of free NHS treatment. I became ill part-way through a legitimate course of study and a legitimate stay in the UK approved by the Home Office. The thought of returning to Nigeria to my mother, who has already endured the emotional and psychological torture of losing two sons so that she can watch her third son die too, is unbearable.
I now consider the UK to be my home. I have laid down roots here and have incredible support from friends, colleagues and tutors. Thanks to my excellent experience at university I am well placed to work hard and get skilled employment here. I have so much to contribute: I have drive and ambition, I want to work and pay my taxes and make a positive difference to the UK. If I return home my deterioration will be rapid and I will not survive as the medical treatment I need to keep me alive is not available there.
For me, there is an irony in how I left Nigeria to come and study in the UK in order to to acquire knowledge to return and help transform the Country. Yet, the knowledge I was trying to acquire through my masters was then terminated early by the Home Office and should I be removed, rather then being able to contribute positively towards changing Nigeria’s failing public institutions, I will not be able to get the medical treatment I need and I will invariably be sent to an early death.
The Home Office exercises discretion about who it decides can stay and who it forces to leave. In my case, it has the power over life and death. Now that I have been given right of appeal to challenge the Home Office decision, I am appealing to the Court to let me stay and be a useful and positive member of society here. In short I am asking not to send me back to my death but to save my life.