Justice Joan Charles has blocked today's deportation of a Nigerian national. Charles granted temporary relief to Nigerian Olalekan Sodiq, who was due to be deported today along with other Nigerians detained at the Maximum Security Prison, Arouca.
Charles made the order, and even granted leave to file for judicial review, after perusing affidavits, including one from Sodiq's Trinidadian wife, Deann Stephen, who complained that she would suffer immensely if she loses her husband. In her affidavit Stephen stated: "Olalekan is the first man to give me the love and respect that I feel I deserve as a woman. "I have had many hardships in my life. Now I have a business and a husband who loves me." Attorney Ravi Heffes-Doon, instructed by Kern Saney, made the application before Charles in the Port-of-Spain High Court. Hearing has been adjourned to Friday. Sodiq arrived in Trinidad in October 2004. He was intransit and on his way to Grenada. He was allowed to stay 24 hours in Trinidad. He overstayed his time, travelled to Tobago and decided to stay.
On May 27, 2008, Sodiq married Stephen, although the relationship started in January 2005. On June 16, 2008, he went to the Immigration Department in Tobago to regularise his status. But his Nigerian passport was seized and he was instructed to return on July 1, 2008 with a ticket to return to Nigeria.
Sodiq said he was unable to raise money for a ticket. A special inquiry was held on August 14, 2008, following which he was detained pending deportation.
His appeal to the Minister of National Security was dismissed on June 25, 2009.
Sodiq applied to the Minister to reconsider the decision to deport. He made it on the basis of the existence of compassionate or humanitarian considerations. He said his deportation would destroy his marriage and it would cause intense emotional and economic hardship to a national of T&T, Deann Stephen. He said it would also reduce the quality of his wife's life economically. In her affidavit, Stephen said prior to Sodiq's detention, they resided at Arnos Vale Road, Tobago. She described the Nigerian as her closest friend. She said her mother died when she was 13, while her father never cared for her. She said she was mistreated and disadvantaged, and because of that, she fled Trinidad and took up residence in Tobago. Stephen said she was a maker of craft goods and together with her husband, established a store called Primitive Arts at Plymouth, Tobago. She said her husband and herself look after the business which thrived. Since Sodiq's detention, Stephen said the business had suffered considerably.
"I am depressed and despondent. I don't sleep well and I cry uncontrollably. I cannot design or work properly. We have a very happy and close marriage," Stephen added. She said if her husband was deported, she did not know where she would get the strength to start again. "Olalekan has given me the balanced and happy life that I have been searching for all my years, both emotionally and economically," she added.