Olajide Ogunye originally from Nigeria but a Canadian citizen is suing the government over what he claims and clearly seems to be a unwarranted 8 month detention.
Ogunye was arrested in June 2016 when Canadian Border Services came to his Toronto home.
Although Ogunye showed them several forms of ID, including his Canadian citizenship documents and a provincial health card. The agents told him they would “sort this out”, and drove him to their office where they fingerprinted him.
They said his fingerprints matched those of Oluwafemi Kayode Johnson, a failed refugee claimant who had been deported from Canada in the 1990s, whom the immigration authorities believed had illegally returned to the country.
Despite his documents and also corroboration from friends and residence who knew him, Ogunye was then taken to Central Eat Correctional Center, a maximum security prison whilst CBSA investigated. He would spend the next 248 days there.
“For them to keep someone in jail for eight months… it is not really a good thing. I hope they don’t do this to somebody else and that is one of the reasons why I’m bringing this to court,” Ogunye says.
For anyone, let alone a Canadian citizen to be held in a maximum security prison for 8 months mistakenly is harrowing. Reports says that Ogunye had to spend most of his time on lock down, leading to him being isolated and unable to talk to relatives and friends.
“One time, for the whole month, I was crying nonstop. I was crying continuously,” he told the CBC. “The nurse had to give me depression pills to make me calm down.”
CBSA said in a statement that it had received Ogunye’s claim and was reviewing the matter, but that it would be “inappropriate” to comment further.
Ogunye is now suing the Canadian Government for $10m in compensation. Which if he wins will helpfully send a powerful message to the CBSA and open a path for more responsibility and oversight within the organization.
Although the CBSA questioned Ogunyes past, citing a criminal record from the 1990s his lawyer says it’s completely irrelevant.
“The minute he showed him he was a Canadian citizen, everything that they were doing that dealt with immigration was unlawful,”
The case has obvious problematic elements, it would be hard to see a situation where a native born Canadian would have been given the same treatment and it is surely worrying for the Nigerian community. Regardless of his place of birth, once a citizen Ogunye should have the exact same rights as any other Canadian.