Save our mates! Pleas for Fremantle family ignored

THE Turnbull government will on Monday deport a single mother and her three children to a region of Nigeria targeted by the ISIS-aligned Boko Haram terror group.

Australians are advised the region is too dangerous to visit, but the immigration department has determined it is safe enough to send back highly educated Jane Ekeng, a practising Christian, and her children.

Ms Ekeng has lived in Freo for seven years on a student visa, completing a masters of business at Notre Dame University.

• School friends and parents gather to support Jane Ekeng and her family, who are to be deported Monday to strife-torn Nigeria. Photo by Steve Grant

• School friends and parents gather to support Jane Ekeng and her family, who are to be deported Monday to strife-torn Nigeria. Photo by Steve Grant

In that time, Nigeria has suffered a bloody six-year insurgency at the hands of Boko Haram, which gained notoriety after last year kidnapping 300 schoolgirls from Chibok, which is 300km from Ms Ekeng’s home town Abuja — closer than Albany is to Perth. A month ago Abuja was rocked by explosions blamed on Boko Haram.

Ms Ekeng is terrified about returning to the region with her two daughters and young son.

“As Christians, my children and I are in danger,” she tells the Herald.

“There have been many instances of targeted bombings of churches and gatherings of worshippers, and kidnapping of women and children.”

She says the situation is worse than most people realise: with no press freedom, many incidents aren’t reported: “It was only because of social media that the government was forced to act after the schoolgirls were kidnapped,” she says of the Chibok incident.

The deteriorating situation back home led Ms Ekeng to apply for a protection visa, which was rejected. An appeal last May to then-assistant immigration and border protection minister Michaelia Cash, a WA senator, fell on deaf ears.

• Jane Ekeng and a young friend and supporter — will it be enough for a last-minute reprieve?

• Jane Ekeng and a young friend and supporter — will it be enough for a last-minute reprieve?

Now, students from Fremantle primary school have organised a last-gasp petition urging immigration minister Peter Dutton not to deport their schoolmates and their mum.

The petition includes emotional pleas from 49 students, many having their first crack at a signature.

Their friends’ uncertain futures weighs heavily upon them.

“It makes me deeply worried that one of my best friends could be soon returning to an unsafe country, something that I hope will never ever happen,” wrote Eve Arendts of best mate Esther (11). “This is their home, it always has been and it always will be.”

“Daniel is our honestest person in class as we’d like him to stay,” says Yolande.Apart from his honesty, Daniel (9) is also one of his class’s brightest: he was offered a position in a gifted students’ program for next year, but won’t even get a chance to see out this semester. The government is determined to put the family on a plane on Monday.

School principal Hayden O’Mara asked that the children at least be allowed to finish the school year, but again the department wouldn’t budge.

The pair’s older sister Cecy sat her last ATAR exam on Monday. She took out her high school’s English award and has been provisionally accepted to study law at UWA, but is understandably pessimistic about her future: “I could still do a law degree but it will not be recognised outside Nigeria, and even in Nigeria I think there is not much opportunity for me,” she told the Herald.

Fremantle refugee network advocate Leonie Lundy says because of the family’s time in Fremantle, it is likely to be viewed as rich by Nigerians, even though the four will be homeless when they arrive.

Ms Lundy says their time here will make them prime targets for extortionists.

She says the family has much to offer Australia if allowed to stay. Ms Ekeng has a job awaiting her in a rural hospital, but under her student visa rules she’s not even allowed to reply to the offer.

Ms Lundy says rural hospitals struggle to attract staff, so it doesn’t make sense to kick out a perfect candidate who is ready to move to the country and make a contribution.

Immigration said it’d get back with a response.


10x7 front page NOV2015 Local.cdr

14 responses to “Save our mates! Pleas for Fremantle family ignored

  1. Heartless and stupid this Australian Federal government is to deport this family to Nigeria and live under constant fear. I am livid!!! And once again I am deeply deeply ashamed to have such utterly cruel bastards as so-called leaders representing the interests of Australians. Let this family continue to live in Australia! It’s clearly mutually beneficial.

    • To send christians back to Nigeria atm is sending them almost certainly to their deaths.
      Times like this we could press an eject button on the immigration official who made this choice.

  2. How can our government do this…..sending 120000 unknown ppl here to escape war and islamic terrorism, but its ok to send this poor woman and children back there, you may as well paint targets on their heads, especially because she is a practicing christian. This family are being sent back to be faced with the worst terrorism any country has seen and the possibility of being raped tortured and murdered by some radicalised braindead thugs. SHAME TURNBULL GOVERNMENT SHAME.

  3. And our worthless racist media have been loving this brutality for years now, they don’t care who is hurt or killed so long as our precious mostly white soil is not bothered by them.

  4. It is a very sad situation, we are very worried for them. It is heartless and we just hope that something can be done. Please share, social media may be our last avenue.

  5. The thought of this leaves me speechless . Where are the values that Australia claims its stands for. How can we stand and watch this family go back to a country plagued by religious and political uncertainty. I can’t even imagine the mental and psychology stress this will cause those lovely kids.
    Guys please let’s stand up for our friends.

  6. I would like a follow-up story on this, please. I believe there are many decent Australians who need to know what happens to Jane and her children, because we should hold our government accountable for stupid and heartless decisions like this. We haven’t heard any of this news from any other media outlet….thanks, Fremantle Herald!

  7. What are we thinking? Why are we deporting this beautiful family when they clearly have so much to offer our community? This is egregiously WRONG, and a terrible indictment on us all. Please can we deport Michaelia Cash instead?

  8. I have had this on my facebook, and have had a number of comments. Do we know if the family have had to leave yet?

Leave a Reply