Widow of Nigerian man who died while being deported 'frustrated' body is still not home
The widow of a Nigerian man who died while being deported from Canada is upset his body still hasn't been returned home and is calling for an independent investigation into his death.
"She's very, very frustrated," said Elias Munshya, who is the lawyer for Bolante Alo's widow, Oluseun.
Bolante Alo was on board a KLM flight destined for Amsterdam on Aug. 7 when he was involved in an altercation with two Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers. The plane was forced to return to the gate, where the Calgary police airport unit was called to the scene.
Officers found the 49-year-old in medical distress. He was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He left behind his wife and two sons in Nigeria.
KLM tweeted after the incident that, "the behaviour of a passenger led to a severe incident on board."
His death is being investigated by the Calgary police homicide unit.
'She can't leave the house'
Oluseun is Yoruba, which is an ethnic group in Nigeria. According to Yoruba custom, a grieving widow must stay inside the home until her husband has been put to rest. So she has been waiting and praying for his return.
"She can't leave the house, so there is some urgency there," Munshya said. "What the family needs right now is the body to be returned."
He said the chief medical examiner in Calgary and the Alberta Health Services Calgary region have released the body, but they are waiting on the Nigerian government to issue a waiver for the body's transportation into the country.
The church Bolante attended in Calgary had raised funds to pay for his body to be returned to Nigeria for burial.
Oluseun is also calling for the release of her husband's cause of death.
An initial autopsy was inconclusive and Munshya said he was told recently it will be still be a number of months until that information is made available.
Bolante had fought to remain in Canada through multiple claims for refugee status and humanitarian and compassionate grounds for 13 years, saying his life would be in danger if he returned to his home country.
He was being detained in advance of his deportation as CBSA officers believed he likely wouldn't appear voluntarily for his flight, due to comments he made saying he wouldn't allow himself to be removed from Canada.
CBSA said they were unable to comment on the incident as it's currently under investigation by police.
Munshya said the family plans to call for an independent investigation into the death, but the first priority is ensuring the body is sent home.
He said they still haven't heard from a single person who was on flight KL678 on Aug. 7.
"She wants people with knowledge to come forward," he said.
An Alberta social justice organization, Ribbon Rouge Foundation, is also calling for an independent investigation into Alo's death through an online petition.
Munshya said while the group did speak to Oluseun, the petition is not an official request on behalf of the family.
The petition also calls for an overhaul of Canada's detention and deportation process, and a freeze on all current detentions and deportations until the investigation takes place.
CBC has reached out to Ribbon Rouge for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.