Asylum seeker fears for future

AN asylum seeker told of his fears that he was just hours from being seized by immigration officials today after his last-ditch bid for a deportation reprieve had all but failed.

AN asylum seeker told of his fears that he was just hours from being seized by immigration officials today after his last-ditch bid for a deportation reprieve had all but failed.

Togo national Mathias Agbenokoudji was hoping for a judicial review into his five-year battle to be allowed to remain in the UK but that application has now been rejected.

His solicitor was today hoping to go before the court to argue that a judge's decision to reject the application was wrong but Mr Agbenokoudji today said he feared his chances of staying were finally dashed.

He said: “I don't think there is anything more I can do.

“If I go to sign in at the police station today maybe they will take me and maybe this time they will not give me three days before they deport me.”

The Evening Star reported last month how Mr Agbenokoudji, a volunteer at the CSV Media Clubhouse in Princes Street and at Ipswich Community Radio, was seized by immigration officials and held at a detention centre in Harwich despite the fact his application for an appeal was still being considered.

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He told then how he feared for his life if he was returned to his west African homeland because of his association with the opposition movement Dzadzakudza.

At the time his solicitor said she felt the 32-year-old from St Helen's Street had a strong case to be allowed to stay.

Mr Agbenokoudji is a well-known filmmaker, web designer and musician whose plight has outraged many of his friends and colleagues at various community groups in the town.

His application for judicial review was dealt with by the courts sooner than expected, seemingly due to a mix-up which left the judge who examined the case under the opinion he remained in detention.

After that 24-hour spell in detention last month, Bruce MacGregor, eastern region manager for CSV, said: “Mathias has been a huge asset and has done much for the local community.

“He volunteers more hours than a full time job. I would fear for his life if he returns. We can't let that happen.”

Today Mr Agbenokoudji said he felt if he was deported after five years of community work, principally in Ipswich, it would send a message to other asylum seekers that they should not try to assimilate with and help their new communities in England.

“If you spend time doing things for the community you can't work on your own case,” he said.

Should Mr Agbenokoudji be allowed to stay in Britain? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk