Pride Mbi Agbor, aged 32, trustee of City of Sanctuary Sheffield
Last week the British High Commissioner to Cameroon met the country’s 84-year-old president Paul Biya, reportedly urging him to end the use of force against English speaking protesters. This week the British Home Office is planning to deport an English speaking Cameroonian who is a long term opponent of that same president and his government.
Pride Mbi Agbor, 32, was arrested last Thursday while his solicitor was awaiting an expert report to back up his asylum claim. Since then, he has been held in Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincolnshire and has been told he’ll be flown out of the country this Friday.
Labour MP for Sheffield Central Paul Blomfield said today: “Pride has become a really valued member of the local community. I’m working with his friends to make the strongest possible case to persuade the Home Office to stop Friday’s planned removal and review his case. There are real concerns about the position of the Anglophone community within Cameroon, which must be properly considered.”
The Daily Telegraph last week reported that Cameroon was in “deep crisis” that threatened its survival as a state, as the government cracked down on protests by English speaking citizens. Protestors have been killed and the internet shut down in the predominantly French-speaking country, which subsumed the former British colony of Southern Cameroon when it gained independence in 1961.
Pride came to the UK in 2009, to study computer engineering at Portsmouth University. Two weeks into the course he received the news that his father had been killed. Like Pride, his father had been active in the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), an opposition group that fights for the rights of Anglophone Cameroonians. Pride was urged not to return home, and to seek sanctuary in the UK.
After completing three years of his four year course, Pride applied for asylum in the UK. His application was refused and subsequent submissions were also rejected. Pride continued his political activities with the SCNC, and was frequently photographed at demonstrations in London. He also kept himself busy in Sheffield, volunteering with City of Sanctuary Sheffield (COSS), attending St Marie’s Roman Catholic Church and helping with a gardening project. He was recently appointed a trustee of COSS.
“I never imagined I’d find myself locked up in detention for trying to do the right thing,” Pride said, speaking from Morton Hall detention centre in Lincolnshire. “I just want to get justice for English speaking people in my country, to finish my course and help people here in Britain.”
While pursuing his claim for asylum, Pride has become well known in Sheffield and the surrounding area, giving talks about the situation in Cameroon and volunteering for different groups. His friends are horrified at the latest turn of events and are appealing to the Home Office to halt the deportation and carefully consider the fresh application for asylum.
Speaking in happier times, about his volunteer work among destitute people in Sheffield, Pride said: “Volunteering has helped me because as an asylum seeker, if you don’t get involved you get drowned in your own despair and it can be hard going out and talking to people. By volunteering you meet people who want to get to know you and you have someone who can listen to you. When I started volunteering I made a lot of friends.”
Pride’s solicitor delivered a fresh claim to the Home Office on Monday.