Selina only came to the attention of the Home Office after she went to the police to report an assault at the hands of her landlord. Five years prior to the assault Selina had come to the UK from Nigeria on a 6-month visitor’s visa and overstayed. After going to the police they advised her not to return to her house for her own safety. But with no family here and nowhere else to live she approached the Home Office as a last resort.
"I was nervous when I went to the Home Office because of my visa, but I was not really thinking about all that because I was desperate. I’ve got problems. So getting to the Home Office I explained everything to them and they were like, OK, so you came a long time ago and you don’t have any documents with you, so we are going to detain you. I said, eh, fair enough."
The same day she was detained by the Home Office, Selina claimed asylum. Her claim was rejected.
"I didn’t have a solicitor straight away, no no, not straight away. They [immigration] found one….she’s going to work for me for two days. So she just came for my interview, so she not go to court. She said if I want her to go to court with me I have to pay. Since I don’t have money to pay she can’t go to court with me. I said OK. So I went to court myself."
Selina’s efforts to appeal her removal without a solicitor were compounded by the fact that she was illiterate.
"I’ve got a roommate, who helped me write some things on the paper. To be honest, my roommate said she don’t know what to do, I need to see a solicitor. I’ve tried solicitor, somebody have took me to the library, took some paper and some number. Different people, they never showed any concern. I’m sorry it’s not really their job, OK, I understand.
"Right now I have no solicitor. Just a couple of hours of legal advice. For real, I have given up finding a solicitor, yes I have."
At the time Selina spoke to BID she had been in detention for three months and was preparing to make her first bail application with BID’s assistance.
"The tough thing is this environment. Not being able to go out, to do things, to move on, being locked up. Sometimes it’s not really easy you know, to be honest. Sometimes I find it difficult. But I don’t really know how to explain that. Sometimes it’s like somebody’s suffocating me, like I can’t breathe. Because every time I just look at walls, walls.
"I want to be able to do things, I want to move, I don’t just want to be lock up here without doing anything. It’s like they are treating me as if I was a criminal, but I’m a normal human being. I want to be free. I want to be able to do things on my own, not locked up. It’s not the kind of life I want to live."
"I apologise for the fact that they have detained me because I broke their law, I disobeyed their law, so I would apologise for that and say I’m really really sorry."
"I want to live in London, I want to live like every other human being, I want to live free. I don’t want to be tied up here in a detention centre."