Wife of Nigerian man who died during deportation seeking answers

Wife of Nigerian man who died during deportation seeking answers
In this July 11, 2018 photo, a vehicle in Canada waits for a gate to rise while crossing into Derby Line, Vt. from Stanstead, Quebec. While the Trump administration fortifies the southern border, there's growing concern over the number of foreigners entering the country illegally across the porous northern border with Canada. At right is a Canada Border Services Agency station in Stanstead. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

CALGARY:  A lawyer for the family of a Nigerian man who died while he was being deported from Canada says his widow is looking for answers.

Bolanle Idowu Alo, who was 49, died following an altercation with two Canada Border Services Agency officers on an Aug. 7 flight to Amsterdam from Calgary.

His family’s lawyer, Elias Munshya, said Alo’s wife wants to know why her husband died.

“She’s broken, but the biggest question on the family’s mind is how did his death happen?” Munshya said in an interview.

Munshya said he will make inquiries to the Canada Border Services Agency as well as the Calgary Police Service, which is investigating the death.

“We have not gotten any updates yet,” he said. “This case is going to turn on its own facts.”

Munshya said they want to know what happened when he was detained, what happened in detention and what happened on the airplane before he died.

Documents from the Immigration and Refugee Board said Alo, whose first name is listed as Bolante, came to Canada in 2005 and made a refugee claim on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

He was, however, denied at every stage and ordered removed from Canada in February 2018.

The documents said he had been cooperative with the Canada Border Services Agency, but maintained he didn’t want to return to Nigeria.

“Mr. Alo is adamant that he will face harm if he is returned to Nigeria and has consistently told officers that he will not return to Nigeria on his own and that he would only return if he is forced to,” stated the documents.

Once he was ordered removed, Nigerian High Commission officers interviewed Alo and raised concerns that he could become violent.

“Mr. Alo’s statements have increased from statements such as ‘I will not go back’ … to statements like ”You will have to carry me like a dead man because I’m not going to my death,“ said one of the CBSA documents.

The documents show Alo was ordered deported on Aug. 7, and the Canada Border Services Agency had a valid emergency travel document and flight with escorts booked.

Calgary police have said they responded to the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ plane that had returned to the gate after the altercation around 3 p.m. that afternoon.

Both the agency and police said the man was in medical distress and was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead around 4:30 p.m.

Police said an autopsy was completed last week, but they are still trying to determine the exact cause and manner of death.

They didn’t anticipate any charges based on what they knew at the time, but said they were still speaking to witnesses to determine exactly what happened before he went into medical distress.