Tuesday, December 5, 2023

IPOB financier who fled Nigeria amid SSS harassment wins asylum appeal in Canada

The Canadian government had in 2017 rejected Mr Chinwuba’s application for refugee protection.

• November 20, 2023
SSS officials and Canadian flag
SSS officials and Canadian flag

A man arrested by the State Security Service in 2016 over his financial ties to the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra, Douglas Chinwuba, has succeeded in having his asylum application reviewed after previous denials. 

The Canadian government had in 2017 rejected Mr Chinwuba’s application for refugee protection on the grounds that his claim of persecution by Nigeria’s secret police, SSS, lacked credibility.

Undeterred, Mr Chinwuba attempted—though in vain—to reverse the ruling when he went to a federal court in Ottawa, Ontario, seeking a judicial review of the denial. There, female Justice Macdonald upheld the decision that had denied his request for asylum.

But the Nigerian persisted and then applied twice for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate [H&C] grounds albeit with additional reasons of the Birth Interests of his Children (BIOC) and his establishment in Canada. Again, both requests were denied in January 2022.

Mr Chinwuba through his lawyer, Ariel Hollander, for Lewis & Associates, sought a review of the last decision which was asserted “unreasonable” in light of the applicant’s contribution as a personal support worker in healthcare to Canada during the third wave of COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Hollander contended that his client risked his life working during the pandemic that claimed other lives and cited the “pathway policy” — a recently launched immigration policy that compensates refugee claimants who worked actively during the COVID-19 pandemic with permanent residence provided they meet the eligibility criteria. 

He explained that Mr Chinwuba worked over 1000 hours “to support individuals with disabilities in group homes.”

“The applicant provided a letter of employment, dated September 28, 2021, from Dorvict Home and Health Care Services confirming that the applicant actively worked throughout the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Justice Favel, on May 12, wrote in the judgment that invalidated Mr Chinwuba’s permanent residency denial.

Mr Favel, in his ruling, said the previous judgment that failed to consider Mr Chinwuba’s employment history, particularly his duties during the pandemic was erroneous and unreasonable.

“The officer erred in concluding that the applicant’s employment history was insufficient to warrant an exemption on H&C (humanitarian and compassionate) grounds,” stated Mr Favel. “The officer ignored the fact that the applicant risked his own health to provide direct patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Doing so renders the decision unreasonable.”

Consequently, “the application for judicial review is allowed,” Justice Favel stated.

The success of Mr Chinwuba’s rejection appeal might pave the way for his successful permanent residency grant on H&C grounds.

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