A boxing champion who has fought for England several times is locked in an immigration centre pending deportation to Nigeria – a country he has competed against.
Now, speaking from the centre, he’s told how he fears being sent back to a country where he has NO family and doesn’t know anyone. Bilal was sent to the UK by his parents at the age of 14 but was made a domestic slave by an uncle he was meant to be living with upon arriving here. He ran away, but Stonebridge boxing club in Brent, west London, helped him turn a turbulent youth of petty crime around to become a national champion.
Since Wednesday November 29, he has been held in Tinsley House immigration detention centre in Perimeter Road, South Gatwick, awaiting removal from the country to Nigeria.
Speaking to Getwestlondon from the detention centre, Bilal said: “I’ve spent over half of my life here. I went to school here, I lived here, I’ve boxed for England five or six times and never lost. I am a national champion – in 2014 I even boxed for England against Nigeria, the country they want to deport me to.
He added: I’m allowed to box for England but I’m not allowed to stay in England. I’ve helped kids in the Stonebridge Boxing gym, I’ve done things that make me a valuable citizen. I have no other family to go back to, I don’t know anyone in Nigeria or anything about it – all I know is here. Imagine how it feels to represent a country and then to have that country turn around and put you in what feels like a prison. Being locked up here in the detention centre is like being in a prison.
According to Bilal, he is technically stateless because his parents who were Lebanese immigrants in Nigeria did not have citizenship there. His application to be recognized as a stateless citizen was also rejected by the Home Office. Bilal also claims that his application to the Nigerian Embassy for citizenship was rejected because they said there was no record of him being born there.
The Home Office has rejected Bilal’s numerous applications for residency and declared his marriage to a British citizen void.