Nigerian Mother denied refugee status; daughter faces child marriage

Nigerian born Morufat Ogunkoya, her son and two daughters, are urgently seeking an appeal to their denied application for refugee status by Immigration Canada. Ogunkoya, who is being assisted by two advocacy groups in her appeal, claims that her own father and male relatives have threatened her safety, due to her conversion from Islam to Christianity.

Ogunkoya also says her 14 year-old daughter has been pledged to marry an older man, and she fears that marriage will be enforced if they are deported to Nigeria.

Morufat Ogunkoya and her children

Ogunkoya, who is living in an undisclosed area in the Niagara region, declined to speak publicly, however, the Caribbean Camera was able to speak to David Cooke, Executive Director of Citizen Go, a family values public advocacy organization, on Ogunkoya’s behalf. He admits that there are complications with Ogunkoya’s claim for refugee status in Canada, but says the family is now facing eminent deportation, “We have an online petition with over 19 000 signatures and we have been calling and emailing Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen with no response. I believe he’s ignoring us, or at least he hasn’t been accessible for this issue. We plan to stage a protest rally in front of his Toronto office, and hope for a chance to present our petition to him. Morufat is a hard-working mother, who is fearful for her life, and the safety of her children. She genuinely believes they are in danger, regardless of which part of Nigeria they are sent to.”

Cooke says the Ogunkoya family has been sent a deportation order so time is running out for them, “Initially, Morufat and her family lived in the U.S but became afraid of Trump’s immigration policies, and she heard that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a more humanitarian open door policy, and so came here. Now here it is, Canada is deporting them to face persecution and possible death,” Cooke laments.

The Caribbean Camera will continue to monitor developments in this case.