A former London Underground worker who has lived in the capital for almost his entire life has been wrongly threatened with removal by the Home Office for the second time within a year.
Franklin Azolukwam, 36, who arrived in Britain with his parents as a child and has not left the country since, lost his job and was ordered to sign on with immigration officials every two weeks after being told he had no right to live in Britain last year.
After eight months of financial turmoil and fears for his future, the Home Office said the Nigerian national had been targeted “in error” and that he did in fact have indefinite leave to remain.
But months after the admitting to the blunder, the Home Office sent Mr Azolukwam another letter stating that he was not allowed to work and had no status in the UK.
After being notified about the case by Labour MP David Lammy, the Home Office admitted that the second letter had also been issued in error.
Mr Azolukwam, who has always paid his taxes and whose entire family are naturalised, told The Independent he felt he had been “targeted” by the Home Office and said he now lived in fear that the same thing could happen again.
Critics said his case showed that the Home Office was “rotten with incompetence” and called on the government to ensure that the Mr Azolukwam was fully compensated following the ordeal.
Remembering the moment, he was first targeted by immigration officials last year, Mr Azolukwam, who lives in north London, said: “Nine police officers came into my house. They kicked the door down.
“They led me out in handcuffs and put me in a detention centre for two days. Obviously, I was frantic. I had panic attacks in the car.”
After eight tumultuous months, Mr Azolukwam was told the letter had been a mistake. His priority was to start working again – but his optimism was short lived.
“I hadn’t been working for so long. I wasn’t trying to get out there immediately, get a job, try sort my life out,” he said. “And then all of a sudden, two or three weeks ago, they sent me a letter again. It said you’re not allowed to work, you are notified you don’t have indefinite leave, you’re not allowed benefits. The exact same letter as before.”
Mr Lammy, whose intervention prompted the Home Office to admit they made an error on both occasions, said the way the 36-year-old had been treated was “beyond comprehension”.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Mr Azolukwam is no longer subject to any enforcement action. He has indefinite leave to remain in the UK. We regret he was issued with a bail notice on 22 September in error and we apologise for any emotional stress this may have caused him. Mr Azolukwam has already been informed to ignore this notice.”