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Canada denies ex-SARS operative asylum

A former member of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Olushola Popoola, has been denied asylum in Canada for crimes against humanity.

WITHIN NIGERIA gathered that Popoola’s application was rejected by the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board in Canada because he was a member of the defunct unit of the Nigeria Police Force between 2002 and 2015.

The ex-SARS operative left Nigeria in 2016 for the United States before he travelled to Canada, where he claimed refugee status. Popoola’s claim was, however, suspended while his case was referred to the Immigration Division for a determination of his inadmissibility.

According to the Canadian immigration department, Popoola was subsequently found “inadmissible pursuant to section 35(1)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, SC 2001, c 27 [the Act]” because “the Nigeria Police Force, and the SARS in particular, have committed crimes against humanity from 2002 to 2015” including “corruption and impunity” as well as “extrajudicial killings”.

He later approached the Federal Court of Canada to seek judicial review of his determination of inadmissibility, arguing that he had resigned in 2011 but the Force did not accept his resignation, hence he continued till 2015.

But the presiding judge, Sébastien Grammond, on April 8, 2021, dismissed the application for judicial review while upholding the decision of the Immigration Division.

Grammond also said Popoola resigned for personal reasons, not because he learned of human rights abuses.

“I am dismissing his application, because the decision-maker reasonably assessed the relevant factors for deciding whether Mr. Popoola made a knowing and significant contribution to the crimes committed by the Nigerian Police Force,” the judge ruled.

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