Canadian border authorities hold citizen without charge for eight months

Look, we're not all maple syrup lollipops and free healthcare up here. According to the CBC, a naturalized Canadian citizen was held against his will, without charge, for 10 months while immigration officials attempted to verify his identity.

47-year old Nigerian-born Olajide Ogunye moved to Canada with his family in the 1990s and, in 1996, he became a Canadian Citizen. But that didn't matter to the Canadian Border Services Agency. During a sweep of his neighborhood (which, I have to admit, I had no idea that the CBSA did), Ogunye was told to produce evidence of his citizenship. So he did: His Ontario Health card and Canadian Citizenship card.

But here's the thing: despite his producing two pieces of government identification – the gold standard for get-out-of-my-face-I'm-a-citizen, the CBSA refused to believe that Ogunye was who he claimed to be. So, without charge, they took him into custody so that he could be properly identified.

From the CBC:

According to Ogunye's statement of claim, the officers ran his fingerprints, which they said matched the identity of a man named Oluwafemi Kayode Johnson, a failed refugee claimant who had been deported from Canada to Nigeria in the 1990s.

Ogunye says he was told the CBSA believed he was actually Johnson, who had returned to Canada illegally and assumed Ogunye's identity. Those fingerprints, according to court documents, were never produced by the CBSA to Ogunye.

This shit went on for EIGHT MONTHS. Despite having not committed any crime, Ogunye was remanded to two different mixed medium/maximum security prisons. As both prisons were pretty much in constant lockdown, Ogunye claimed that he was unable to contact any of his family members to let them know what had become of him. Additionally, because he obviously wasn't able to show up for work, he lost his job as a result of his incarceration.

Eventually, Ogunye was released. In response to complaints that they had held a Canadian citizen for six months with no charge, the CBSA stated that they had made every attempt to contact members of Ogunye's identity. This is true… but those attempts to make contact didn't begin until six months after they'd thrown Ogunye in the clink. The CBSA then tried to cover their ass by stating that Ogunye had been convicted of several crimes in the past and as such, they had an issue with his credibility. You know what? Fuck that. What a man did in the past doesn't give my government the right to lock him up for six months, without charge, because they were concerned that he might be lying to them. The CBSA violated his Charter rights.

Ogunye is suing the Canadian government for $10 million. I hope he gets every last cent.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of Jumilla