R ANTHONY CHIEDU OBASI v THE Secretary of State for the Home Department

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date16 February 2007
Neutral Citation[2007] EWHC 381 (Admin)
Date16 February 2007
CourtQueen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
Docket NumberCO/1232/2006

[2007] EWHC 381 (Admin)





Mr Justice Sullivan


The Queen on the Application of Anthony Chiedu Obasi
The Secretary of State for the Home Department

MS FRANCES WEBBER (instructed by Messrs Christian Khan) appeared on behalf of the Claimant

MISS SUSAN CHAN (instructed by Treasury Solicitor) appeared on behalf of the Defendant

( As approved by the Court )


The claimant is a Nigerian national, born on 24th February 1981. On 25th February 2005 he left Nigeria, with financial assistance from his mother, and arrived in the United Kingdom the next day. He claimed asylum and human rights protection. It is not in dispute that his human rights claim stands or falls with his asylum claim.


Both claims were certified as clearly unfounded in a decision letter dated 9th March 2005 ("the decision letter"). The decision letter was reaffirmed in a number of subsequent decision letters to which it is unnecessary to refer for the purposes of this judgment.


Following certification, removal directions were made. The first attempt on 21st July 2005 failed because, according to the defendant, the claimant refused to board the flight. The second attempt on 16th August 2005 also failed. The defendant says that the claimant was violent and aggressive towards his escorts, and the claimant says that he was assaulted by those escorts. It was contended on his behalf that removal from the United Kingdom would breach his rights under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights because he needed to remain in the United Kingdom in order to pursue his intended civil claim for assault. Because of public funding difficulties, those proceedings have not yet been instituted.


The claimant's Article 6 claim was dealt with in a decision letter dated 12th December 2005. The defendant concluded that there would be no breach of Article 6 if the claimant was returned to Nigeria, but this was on the basis that the claimant would be able to invoke Article 6 in any application to re-enter the United Kingdom in order to attend one or more subsequent stages of his civil claim.


Notwithstanding Ms Webber's valiant attempts on the claimant's behalf, I am satisfied that the Article 6 claim is hopeless. This is a simple allegation of assault, with each party alleging that the other was the one who was violent. There is no conceivable reason why the proceedings should not be initiated and preparatory steps carried out while the claimant is in Nigeria. There is a dispute as to the extent to which it is possible to access telephones in Nigeria, but that is not the point. Documentation in a simple assault claim such as this is not likely to be very extensive, and if there are genuine difficulties in accessing a telephone, then the postal service should suffice. I accept that, given the nature of the claim, it is likely that the claimant would have to attend for the hearing itself, but as the decision letter dated 12th December 2005 points out, the claimant may seek permission to re-enter for that specific purpose. Whether a refusal would be a breach of Article 6 can be considered if and when such an application is made, and if and when it is refused.


I turn therefore to the principal challenge: the certification of the claimant's asylum claim. The relevant authorities are well known and it is unnecessary to rehearse them in this judgment. I have to consider the question: would this claim be "bound to fail" if it went before an immigration judge on appeal.


There is no criticism of the manner in which the decision letter described the claim for asylum in paragraphs 7(a) to (l). In summary, the claim is based on the fact that the claimant's father was the king of the Itu-Aguneze village in Anambra state, which is a state in eastern Nigeria. When the claimant's father died in January 2003, the claimant was expected to be the next king of the village (as the firstborn son), but he did not wish to become king, because holding that office involved rituals and sacrifices which were contrary to his Christian faith, which he had adopted whilst he was studying at university. The claimant said that he had been threatened by his village kinsmen with being thrown into a shrine, the Amadioha Shrine, where he would be killed by wild animals. His kinsmen locked him up for three days without food and water. To buy time, the claimant agreed to undertake the first stage of his coronation on 16th January 2005. However when the second stage of the coronation was due, towards the end of that month, with his mother's help he caught a bus to Lagos and went to a hotel, where he stayed for just over a month. He experienced no problems in the hotel, although he only went out at nighttime, and his mother and sister came to visit him in the hotel.


The claimant was asked why he had left to go to Lagos and why he did not seek protection from the authorities. Paragraph (h) in the decision letter records his answers thus:

"h) Based on the telephone call you received from your relatives, 'they were looking for me all over'. There are no organisations you could turn to and the police are corrupt and 'if they can't get anything from you they won't help you'. They would also tell you to settle it with your people as it is a traditional matter. The St Peter's Church could not help you because 'I haven't had any opportunity to meet them' [references made to the responses in interview].

i) There is no place you knew where you could go and be safe in Nigeria, even in Lagos you would only come out at night. You remained in Lagos for a month and about three or four days. You did not experience any problems there because 'they don't know where I am'. You left Lagos as it was a matter of time before your kinsmen found you. There is 'no part of Nigeria that is safe for me in the circumstances'."


The decision letter did not take issue with the claimant's account of events on credibility grounds. Accepting the claimant's version of events at face value, the decision letter concluded that the claim was clearly unfounded for two reasons. First, the state would afford the claimant a sufficiency of protection (paragraphs 9-31). Second, there was no obstacle to internal relocation within Nigeria, which was a large and populous country (paragraphs 31-38).


Dealing with these two issues in turn, although Ms Webber pointed to passages in the April 2006 Country of Origin Information Report Nigeria, the claimant faces an initial difficulty in that he made no attempt whatsoever to seek protection from the authorities. The letter says:

"22. It is noted that you did not make a report to the police as you claim that they are corrupt and that you would be told that as it is a traditional matter you should sort it out with your people (AIR Q36). However, your statement is not supported by the objective evidence above in that the authorities have demonstrated a willingness to intervene in cases involving cults and ritual sacrifices.

23. It is evident that Nigerian police have a willingness to arrest those they suspect of being involved with ritual sacrifices. There is no reason to believe that were you to bring your problems to the attention of the authorities they would refuse to help you."


Ms Webber submits that willingness does not necessarily translate into an ability to take effective steps, and points to the following paragraph of the decision letter which begins with this sentence:

"Nevertheless, it is accepted that the police are widely seen as being undisciplined, badly trained and poorly led, and unable to deal with the level of violent crime that they have to face. … Corruption was rampant, usually taking the form of bribes at highway...

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4 cases
  • B (G O) v Min for Justice
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 3 June 2008
    ...(Unrep, Feeney J, 9/2/2007), Ali v Minister for Justice [2004] IEHC 108 (Unrep, Peart J, 26/5/2004), R (Obasi) v Secretary of State [2007] EWHC 381 (Admin), Susan O v Minister for Justice [2008] IEHC 107 (Unrep, Charleton J, 24/4/2008) considered - Relief refused (2007/1684JR - Birmingham J......
  • Upper Tribunal (Immigration and asylum chamber), 2014-06-13, AA/09444/2013
    • United Kingdom
    • Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber)
    • 13 June 2014
    ...such that there would be no risk of lack of protection. Mr Smart drew to my attention three cases in particular. First, there was Obasi [2007] EWHC 381 which established that the Nigerian authorities and the police do make efforts to tackle crime even now there is corruption. The judge did ......
  • Oco V. A Decision Of The Upper Tribunal (immigration And Asylum Chamber)
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Session
    • 26 July 2012
    ...aspects of the application for leave to appeal, the respondent referred R (Umar) v SSHD [2008] EWHC 2385 Admin and R (Obasi) v SSHD [2007] EWHC 381 Admin. However, when these cases are examined, the court does not consider that they are of material assistance in relation to the different ci......
  • Umar, R v Secretary of State for the Home Department
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
    • 10 October 2008
    ...34 In support of those submissions he refers to R(on the application of Obasi) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2007]EWHC] Admin 381 a case which dealt with a challenge to the certification of the claimant's asylum claim where the claimant was a Nigerian national. Issues of suf......

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