Deportee on 15th day of starvation protest in jail


A Nigerian  who enters his 15th day on hunger-strike in Mountjoy Prison this morning has said his sight is beginning to fail.

Mr Alabi Ayinde failed in his High Court appeal against his deportation two weeks ago. He has a young family that has been given permission to stay in the State although he is due to be sent back to Nigeria within the next six weeks.

Of six failed asylum-seekers who embarked on the hunger-strike in the prison on March 13th Mr Ayinde is the only one still refusing food.

Despite a statement at the weekend by the Prison Service that he had begun taking small amounts of food, he said in an interview at the prison yesterday that he had taken only "some milk drink".

Wearing a pale blue baggy shirt and jeans he appeared weak though able to walk, albeit when half-leaning, half-gripping the wall as he did so.

"My eyes are sore," he said, touching them. "There is pus coming out of them, and at night I cannot see my fingers in front of me." He is being visited daily by the prison doctor.

His wife, Ms Omo Ayinde, is pregnant with their third child, while their second, 23-month-old Zainab, was born here and is an Irish citizen.

Mrs Ayinde said yesterday she was very worried about her husband, adding that if he were deported she and the children would have to return to Nigeria.

"Nothing would make me happy in this country without him," she said from her home in Dublin city centre. "I don't want my husband to go back. If he does they [the Nigerian authorities] are going to arrest him at the airport."

Mr Ayinde, a former student of political science, took part in protests against the authorities in Lagos before fleeing two years ago .

"The Irish Government is making me a single mum, and I am not a single mum," said Mrs Ayinde. "My babies are crying every day saying, 'I want my daddy, I want my daddy'. It is very hard."

The couple's first child, Damilola, is nine.

Bleary-eyed and leaning on the table between us, Mr Ayinde said the prison doctor wanted "to send me to the hospital [medical wing]", but added he did not want to go as he feared the authorities might try to deport him while medicated.

Mr Ayinde also alleged he had been beaten by immigration gardaí after his appearance at the High Court, an allegation denied by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

He is lodging a complaint with the Garda Complaints Board about the matter.

A spokesman for the Garda said the allegation would be investigated in the normal manner. Asked whether the deportation would be delayed pending resolution of the complaint, the spokesman said it would not interfere with the deportation.

Neither Mr Ayinde nor his wife will be given any notice when the deportation documentation is ready, a spokesman for the GNIB confirmed.