Cynthia’s Christmas present

A WOMAN who faced almost certain death if she was deported to Nigeria has received the best Christmas present — the news that she can stay in the UK.

Cynthia Owie faced deportation to her native Nigeria where she was threatened with death for engineering her baby daughter’s death through witchcraft.

She came to England on Boxing Day December 2008 with her daughter Daniella. When the infant fell ill Cynthia was allowed to stay while she was treated. She has been fighting deportation since her daughter’s death in early 2009.

Her plight was taken up by the vicar and parishioners at the Ascension Parish Church in Custom House and West Ham MP Lyn Brown who took up her case with Damian Green, the immigration minister.

Now, just days before Christmas the Home Office has had a change of heart and decided that Cynthia can remain in the country for three years and apply for citizenship.

The Rev Chris Hanson, the vicar at the church said he went through a whole raft of emotions when he first heard the news. He said Cynthia was “absolutely jumping for joy. There were tears, there was laughter — it was amazing. “One of the first things she said was “Can I work now?”.

Mr Hanson said Cynthia was a giver, not a taker and had worked hard at contributing to the church. She had made all the costumes in the church’s Christmas production as she is a skilled seamstress.

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He said the Minister’s decision showed the Christmas spirit was very much alive. He is particularly pleased that Cynthia can stay in the UK as it will give her the chance to finally grieve, and be able to visit her daughter’s graveside whenever she wants to.

West Ham Lyn Brown MP said: “I am very grateful to the Minister for taking the compassionate decision he did. I think he recognised the unique and painful circumstances of Cynthia’s plight. The spirit of Christmas has prevailed and Cynthia can now begin to rebuild her life.”