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08th Jun 2018

WATCH: Students rally together to save classmates from deportation

Kate Demolder

“We have nothing to gain and everything to lose by sending them away.”

Students at Tullamore College have come together to appeal to Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan to save their friend Nonso Muojeke and his family from deportation.

Nonso and his family arrived in Ireland when he was just two years old, back in 2006, following the death of their father.

Mrs. Muojeke, as a widow, became the property of her husband’s brother, as is the custom. She was seriously mistreated by that brother and the rest of the family.

She then fled to Ireland in 2007 with her two boys, aged two and seven. They lived in a hostel in the Direct Provision System in Dublin before being moved to County Laois. The family applied for asylum based on the treatment of Mrs. Muojeke and her two children.

This was turned down in 2009. Mrs. Muojeke requested the solicitor on the case to file an appeal within the 15 days allowed, something which never happened.

A Deportation Order was then issued and the family moved to Tullamore where Mrs. Muojeke continued to engage by trying to get her file back from the original solicitor. After a very long time she succeeded and, finally, Mr. John Gerard Cullen took up her case and appealed to the Minister of Justice in 2015.

According to the website set up by the students, the Minister did not reply at first for more than a year.

The Minister then refused Humanitarian Leave to remain in 2017. The reasons given included that the older boy will settle well if returned to Nigeria as he settled well, aged seven, when he came to Ireland.  Also, it was stated that the severe mental trauma suffered by the children is not a ground for granting Humanitarian Leave to remain.   The issue of the best interests of the children was not considered a relevant matter.

The family has never received welfare payments and none of them has ever had a medical card.  They have not even received Children’s Allowance. Both boys identify totally with being Irish, neither speaks any Nigerian dialect and has no cultural awareness of that country whatsoever.

With this campaign, the Tullamore College students are hoping to get the attention of Minister Charles Flanagan, who has the power to grant “Leave to Remain” to these boys.

JOE spoke to Annie Brown, a friend of the Muojekes, who informed us about the love the community has for these two boys.

“I met Victor when I first started secondary school and he has been a firm friend ever since,” she began.

“Both boys are kind, gentle, and endlessly talented. Ireland will not benefit from this deportation, it will lose two boys with bright futures and amazing potential.

“It goes without saying that when we heard this, as the boys classmates, we were abhorred. These boys have been an integral part of our community since our childhoods. In short, we love these boys too much to say goodbye to them this way.

“We are not ready to lose Nonso and his family as they are such an asset to our society.”

Collectively, students of the boys’ school created a video in which they fervently argue their case that the Muojekes should stay in Ireland. The video garnered over 10,000 views in less than 24 hours and over 400 shares.

“Please help save Victor and his family, because the community would be lost without them.”

For those wishing to get involved, you can do so by signing the petition on the Save Nonso website, and sharing the video across social media platforms.

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