Asylum seeker: Please help me, Mr Mole

ACT now Mr Mole before it's too late.

Grant Sherlock

ACT now Mr Mole before it's too late.

That was the call from nearly 80 people who turned out to support an Ipswich asylum seeker who faces being deported to Togo within days.

A campaign to convince the government to allow Mathias Edoh Agbenokoudji to remain in the UK is increasing pace, with a groundswell of support developing for the popular 32-year-old film-maker, web designer and musician.

Friends and colleagues converged on the Cornhill yesterday to throw their support behind the campaign and to urge Ipswich MP Chris Mole to lobby the Home Office to re-examine his case.

Among them was Mathias supporter Dick Mols who told the group: “If he was a professional footballer he would be paid to stay here - it's sad but that's the difference.”

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Mr Agbenokoudji, of St Helen's Street, has been battling for five years for the right to stay in the UK permanently, however the government and courts have ruled that he should return to his west African homeland.

He had been told that he could be detained when he went to Ipswich police station yesterday for his weekly signing in appointment but it is thought a last minute change of heart from immigration officials won him a temporary reprieve.

The volunteer at Ipswich Community Radio and the CSV Media Clubhouse in Princes Street, who helps people with computer literacy and in designing websites for community groups and charities, says he fears for his life if he returns to Togo because of his membership of an anti-government group.

Today he said he was indebted to the 78 people who turned out to show their support for him on the steps of Ipswich town hall.

“I was just so overwhelmed. I didn't know I had the support of so many people,” he said.

“I would hope that the government listens to the public. Although the law says I have to go surely they should listen to the people.”

Should Mathias Agbenokoudji be allowed to stay in Britain? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

Jane Chambers, Ipswich borough councillor for Alexandra ward:

“I've known Mathias for some time now and believe he should stay.

“He's been here for five years, he's as English as you and I as far as I am concerned.

“People who help the community should be allowed to stay. He's a great young man.”

Tonia Wilson, CSV youth inclusion manager, who lives off Foxhall Road, Ipswich:

“Not only has he shown to be so approachable, he's also supporting young people from all over Ipswich.

“He's always willing to help and support in any way he can.

“I think he's invaluable. It would be a real asset to keep him.

“Everything that's happening is such an injustice.”

Cheryl Phillips, ICR presenter and CSV volunteer:

“Every Thursday my heart beats faster when Mathias goes to sign in. For all of us that love him every Thursday we just worry.

“He is just so quiet and humble - why would you take someone like that away?

“He's been such a mentor to my son. When you ask him to help he's always there.”

John Row, well-known Ipswich storyteller:

“He's helped me with an enormous amount of technical stuff.

“As far as I am concerned he is exactly the kind of person we need in this country.

“He is selfless, he is dedicated. No one ever gets turned down when they come to ask for help from him.

“It seems inhuman to me to deport someone who has put so much into the community.”

Ewan Phillips, of Darwin Road, Ipswich, has known Mathias for three years.

“He's a massive asset to ICR and CSV. He does a lot of community work with the station and young people. He does a lot of work helping people to add to their skills.

“He's a passionate guy and he really cares about people. He's an inspiration to young people.

“It's insane to send him back to a country that's not democratic. It seems to be an awful thing to do to someone who is a real asset to the country.”

Ozzie Sibley, veteran ICR presenter:

“He's a great guy.

“The things he does here are terrific. He works really, really hard.

“He will be really missed by the people at CSV if he had to go back.

“I think it would be a big shame if that happened.”

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