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FGM-fear family returned to Nigeria

A mother who was fighting extradition because she fears her two daughters will be subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) has been flown back to her native Nigeria.

Afusat Saliu, 31, and her two daughters Bassy, four, and Rashidat, two, were put on a flight from Heathrow to Lagos last night.

It came after lawyers launched a judicial review in a last-ditch attempt to keep the three of them in Britain last week.

More than 125,000 people signed an online petition demanding that the Home Office reconsider the case.

Anj Handa, a friend of Ms Saliu who set up the petition on campaigning website Change.org, said she was "baffled" by the Home Office's claim that the family do not need protection.

"They have been given two nights in a hostel in Lagos and after that they are going to be left on their own," she said.

"If it was just her, that wouldn't be ideal but it might be easy for her to sleep on the floor somewhere.

"But there is two little girls, so what should she do?

"We are talking to faith-based and grass-roots organisations but we recognise that funding for such organisations has become increasingly stretched in Nigeria."

Ms Saliu, who is a victim of FGM, fled to the UK in 2011 while she was heavily pregnant after her stepmother threatened to subject her daughter Bassy to the cutting.

She has previously said she fears both her daughters will be mutilated and she will be forced to marry against her will if they are forced to return to Nigeria.

Friends of the family, who are Christian and have been living in Leeds, have also warned they could be targeted by Islamic terror group Boko Haram, which recently kidnapped about 250 schoolgirls in Nigeria.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We consider every claim for asylum on its individual merits and in this case the claimant was not considered to be in need of protection.

"The case has gone through the proper legal process and our decision has been supported by the UK courts on five separate occasions, while the European Court of Human Rights declined an application to halt the removal."

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