High Court Judgment: T.U. (Nigeria) v. International Protection Authorities [2024] IEHC 73


Olga Shajaku

Introduction: The case of T.U. from Nigeria, seeking international protection in Ireland, highlights the complexities and challenges involved in asylum applications. T.U. claimed persecution by Nigerian state actors due to his association with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) political group. His case came before the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT), which initially rejected his application, leading to an appeal before the High Court.

Background: T.U., born in Q2 of 1980, was an accountant in Nigeria before fleeing to Ireland on March 5, 2022. He alleged being targeted by the Nigerian security forces, particularly the Department of State Services (DSS), for his involvement in IPOB demonstrations. T.U. recounted instances of violence and threats against him and fellow IPOB members, culminating in his decision to seek asylum abroad.

Key Points Raised by T.U.: In his appeal to the High Court, T.U. raised two main grounds challenging the Tribunal’s decision:

  1. Lack of Medical Evidence: T.U. argued that the Tribunal failed to adjourn the hearing to obtain a medical report on his injuries allegedly inflicted by state actors. He contended that such evidence would corroborate his claims of persecution and validate his need for international protection.
  2. Disregard of Country of Origin Information (COI): T.U. asserted that the Tribunal overlooked compelling COI supporting his fear of persecution in Nigeria. He argued that his involvement with IPOB and documented instances of violence against its members warranted a well-founded fear of harm upon return.

Court’s Analysis and Decision: The High Court scrutinized T.U.’s arguments in light of relevant legal principles and precedents. While acknowledging T.U.’s vulnerability as an asylum seeker and the duty of cooperation between the Tribunal and applicants, the court found merit in his first ground of appeal. It criticized the Tribunal for not proactively offering T.U. the opportunity to obtain medical evidence, considering its potential significance in assessing his claims.

However, the court upheld the Tribunal’s decision regarding COI, emphasizing the applicant’s burden of proving past persecution or harm. Despite the existence of general risks faced by IPOB members in Nigeria, T.U. failed to sufficiently demonstrate personal experiences of persecution or a well-founded fear of future harm.

Conclusion and Remedy: In light of its findings, the court set aside the Tribunal’s decision and ordered a rehearing before a different tribunal member. This decision aimed to ensure fairness and compliance with the duty of cooperation, thereby providing T.U. with a fair opportunity to present his case and obtain a comprehensive assessment of his asylum claim. The parties were granted a period to submit further written submissions on final orders and costs, reflecting the judicial commitment to due process and procedural fairness in asylum proceedings.

For the full case: https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/03473ea1-3be3-4a72-bc28-7853c01068b3/2024_IEHC_73.pdf/pdf#view=fitH


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