Stay of execution for Sheffield man fighting 'life-threatening' deportation
A Sheffield man facing deportation to Cameroon, where campaigners say his life would be in danger, has won a stay of execution.
Pride Mbi Agbor came to the UK in 2009 to study at Portsmouth University, but two weeks into his computer engineering course he learned his father had been killed amid political unrest back home.
The 32-year-old has lived in Sheffield for the last few years, where he has made many friends through volunteering as he seeks asylum in the country.
Like his father, Pride is a prominent member of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), an opposition group fighting for the rights of English speakers in his native country.
He has protested in the UK against Cameroonian president Paul Biya and his government's alleged repression of the country's English-speaking minority.
He believes his life would be at risk should he return, especially following recent reports of protesters being killed in the turmoil gripping the predominantly French-speaking former colony.
His previous bids for asylum had been rejected by the Home Office but his solicitor was preparing a new application when Pride was arrested last Thursday (March 15) and told he would be deported this Friday.
He was detained at Morton Hall immigration centre in Lincolnshire and even moved to Colnbrook ready to be flown out of the country.
But the Home Office eventually bowed to a campaign by the City of Sanctuary Sheffield (COSS) on Wednesday evening, deferring his deportation and releasing him on bail while his case is reconsidered.
Sarah Eldridge, of COSS, which supports asylum seekers, said: "Pride has a very strong argument that he would be in danger if he is sent back, because of his political activities here.
"It's been a very stressful time for him but all his friends in Sheffield, where he's made a real impression through his voluntary work, have rallied round and we're delighted at his release."
Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, who had called on the Home Office to review its decision, said he was inundated with letters from constituents supporting Pride's right to remain in the UK.
"Pride has become a really valued member of the local community here in Sheffield," he said.
"There's strong evidence his life would be in danger is he's sent back to Cameroon and the Home Office has to give that proper consideration."
Pride volunteers for COSS, attending St Marie’s Roman Catholic Church and helping with a gardening project, and he was recently appointed a trustee of the organisation.
Speaking before his deportation was deferred, he said: "I never imagined I’d find myself locked up in detention for trying to do the right thing. I just want to get justice for English speaking people in my country, to finish my course and help people here in Britain."