“She (Morufat Ogunkoya) is an ordained minister of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (and) religious persecution is the reason why she left Nigeria and that possibility cannot be ignored if she and her children are forced to go back.” – Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch, in an open letter to Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed D. Hussen
An Open Letter to Canadian Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed d. Hussen from Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch
Posted July 31st, 2019 on Niagara At Large
Dear Minister Hussen: … URGENT
Re: Welland Family Facing Uncertain Future:
I am joining hundreds of people in the Welland community seeking assistance to stop the deportation of 46-year-old Morufat Ogunkoya and her three children Victor, Hephzibah and Rejoice to Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
The family’s legal counsel have submitted a Humanitarian and Compassionate application to request that the government give them permission to stay in Canada, but this does not prevent them from being deported.
I have personally met with Morufat. She is an incredible woman, working long days to support her young family.
Morufat is trained in business administration and has worked as a secondary school teacher, vice-principal and school councillor. She is also an ordained minister of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
Religious persecution is the reason why she left Nigeria and that possibility cannot be ignored if she and her children are forced to go back to Port Harcourt, which is deemed an Internal Flight Alternative by the Immigration Review Board.
The family believes the reason for its deportation is that the Canadian government does not deem the current situation in Nigeria and the Rivers State area to be a threat. Just searching online the delta states of Nigeria – including Port Harcourt – it is quickly established that the governments of Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia are advising against non-essential travel as per the attached documents.
Furthermore, Port Harcourt is facing “menacing air pollution”, which could pose a threat to Morufat’s well being as she is living with asthma.
In June 2019, Doctors Without Borders told the BBC that there are 120 rape cases every month in Port Harcourt and on average 70-80% of the victims are girls under the age of 15 years. Also attached is a report from May 2018 on Violence affecting Women and Girls in Rivers State and on July 1, 2019, two Policeman shot dead on the way to a bank in Port Harcourt.
I must also stress that as noted in the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Refugee Protection Division decision ” the panel does not take issue with the general credibility of the principal claimant’s testimony except where it related to the issue of an Internal Flight Alternative (IFA).”
The testimony-which was not disputed-included a family submission that outlined that Morufat’s father issued a fatwa on a family, who was already targeted and threated with death while still in Niagara. Furthermore, this testimony stated that the older children were beaten on their way home from school. The details of these instances were documented in the papers submitted to the IRB.
As Morufat told me in an emotional meeting I had with her, the group she and her children are running from are well connected in the country. They can easily track her down and be found regardless of where she goes in Nigeria. The City of Welland has opened its arms to this family who want to stay in Canada because it is safe and secure for them.
Minister, it is within your purview to intervene and issue a temporary residency permit to allow them to stay in Canada. I am asking your office to look at the file of this well-established family in Welland facing deportation to Nigeria and with that, a very uncertain future.
Your time and consideration of this urgent matter is appreciated. I am hoping for a positive outcome on behalf of Morufat and her three children ages 16, 14 and 9, all of who are currently thriving in school.
Sincerely, Jeff Burch, MPP (the Ontario NDP representative for the Riding of Niagara Centre)
Copy: Morufat Ogunkoya and Family, Sonya Wierenga, Executive Director, Rose City Kids, Vance Badawey, M.P., Niagara Centre
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