Ireland: The shameful story of the deportation of Elukanlo Olakunle

Socialist Party TD (MP) and Nigerian cwi take up case of student

On 15 March, 19 year old student, Elukanlo Olakunle, was deported by the Irish authorities from Dublin to Lagos, in Nigeria. He was dumped in the Nigerian capital, where he has no family, and without money or ID papers. Elukanlo Olakunle was then arrested and jailed, where he was attacked by thugs. However, Joe Higgins TD was alerted to Elukanlo Olakunle’s ordeal by his fellow students at Palmerstown Community College in Dublin, who organised student protests over the deportation. Joe Higgins and the Democratic Socialist Movement in Nigeria (cwi) are now helping Elukanlo Olakunle to survive in Lagos and are campaigning for his return to live and study in Ireland.
The case provoked uproar in Ireland, especially as Elukanlo Olakunle was deported during the week when St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Ireland and in many other countries. St Patrick’s Day is traditionally a time associated with the plight of generations of Irish people who were forced to emigrate from Ireland because of poverty, joblessness and oppression.
Below is a press statement by Joe Higgins on Elukanlo Olakunle’s case. We also carry reports from the Irish press on the case.

The shameful story of the deportation of Elukanlo Olakunle

The shameful story of the deportation of Elukanlo Olakunle

Press Statement by Joe Higgins TD

Elukanlo Olakunle, a 19 year old student in Dublin was deported and

  • Dumped in Lagos by Gardai [Irish police] with no identity papers
  • Dumped in Lagos with no money
  • Dumped in Lagos with only school uniform
  • Imprisoned and released
  • Beaten up by thugs for money he did not have

The Minister for Justice has the most serious questions to answer about the deportation on Tuesday, 15 March of Palmerstown Community School student Elukanlo Olakunle.

Elukanlo was snatched when he went to sign on at the Garda National Immigration Bureau on Monday, 15 March. He was incarcerated in Cloverhill Prison and then deported. He was not allowed to speak to anybody.

He was dumped in Lagos, Nigeria where he has no family and no contacts He has no identity papers and had no money. He was in his school uniform, the only clothes he has.

On arrival he was taken to Alagbon Prison. On being released he was attacked by two thugs who, seeing his western clothes, assumed he had money to rob. Fortunately, a kind man gave him a place to stay for the night and also allowed him to use his phone to contact his friends in Dublin.

On hearing of Elukanlo’s plight from his fellow students at Palmerstown Community School, through the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) I contacted fellow socialists in the Democratic Socialist Movement of Nigeria (DSM) and asked them to help. They have met Elukanlo Olakunle and will assist him to find a safe place to stay for a period. I have this morning cabled some money to them to assist with accommodation and to buy food. It has to be understood that life in Lagos is extremely precarious for ordinary people, most of whom are very poor, including my socialist colleagues.

Members of the DSM got Elukanlo to write about what happened and emailed it to me.

What a cruel irony that the week that this young person was deported Irish Government Ministers were all around the world with Irish communities and the descendants of the millions who left Irish shores for a better life. Just like Elukanlo Olakunle. What monumental hypocrisy that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was in Washington asking the US Government to allow thousands of ‘undocumented, illegal’ Irish people to stay in the United States.

I am contacting key members of the Dail to call on the Minister for Justice to immediately provide for Elukanlo’s return to Ireland so that he can continue his studies and have a chance of a decent future.

“Bring Kunle Home Campaign” was set up by his fellow students: Contact Neil Burke 085-7220266 or Donal Mooney 087-7537549)

Press coverage

Irish Times

Evening Herald

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March 2005