Crime Victim Advocate Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo poses with photo's of murder victims Jane Creba and Ephraim Gerald Brown in downtown Toronto.
Credits: ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI AGENCY
After working tirelessly for the last five years to help families who have lost loved ones to gun violence, the outspoken crime victims' advocate was arrested at her home in the city's west end Friday afternoon.
And within a few short days, the former journalist expects to be back in her native Nigeria — a country she fled after watching gunmen execute co-workers at a television station there.
"What did I do?" Omololu-Olunloyo sobbed over the phone to QMI Agency Friday from the back of a Canada Border Services Agency van.
She had known for months that her deportation was likely imminent, but Omololu-Olunloyo has been fighting to stay in the country she has come to love.
But this seems to be one of the few fights in her life that she may not win.
Omololu-Olunloyo was recently ordered to report monthly to CBSA.
However, when she reported in July she claims she was told she'd be deported Aug. 20 and she had no idea she was expected to report again before that date.
So she was shocked when CBSA officers turned up at her apartment Friday afternoon allegedly to take her into custody for failing to report as ordered on Aug. 10.
"I refused to open the door and they called in the police," Omololu-Olunloyo claims.
She alleges Toronto cops, with whom she has worked closely with in recent years, "stormed" her apartment and took her away in handcuffs.
Omololu-Olunloyo claims she was allowed to hang onto her cellphone in order to try to find someone to look after her young son, K.J., who was left behind at a restaurant across the street from their home.
"I was told I'm being taken to a detention centre in Milton and that I'll be held there until Monday when I have to go before a judge," an emotional Omololu-Olunloyo said, clearly uncertain of what would happen next.
The daughter of a high-ranking politician in Nigeria moved to Toronto in 2007.
She organized her first press conference the following year for the family of murder victim William Junior Appiah.
And she has continued ever since to push the community, police and media to work together to solve his and many other killings.
"I'm just a citizen who wanted to make our community safer," she once said of her efforts to ensure slain loved ones are not forgotten and that killers don't roam freely on the city's streets — at least not without looking over their shoulder.
Much of her work has been done through social media, where she has a huge following and routinely appeals for witnesses to use Crime Stoppers.
Her work has made her a few enemies along the way, people who have accused her of being a "snitch" or "police informant."
And Omololu-Olunloyo, who has also helped some troubled young men walk away from their life of crime, has worried at times that one of those enemies might come after her.
"But if I'm killed tomorrow, at least I'll have died trying to make a difference," Omololu-Olunloyo confided a couple years ago.
Some of her enemies have attacked her online over the years, accusing her of profiting from her work with murder victims.
But that work has truly been a labour of love.
Omololu-Olunloyo has worked as a journalist, pharmacist and publicist in order to make ends meet.
She said her youngest son K.J., who was only about six years old when they came to Canada, is extremely anxious about being sent back to Nigeria.
An older son, who suffers from autism and has his own assisted-living apartment in Toronto, is expected to be deported to the U.S., said Omololu-Olunloyo, who once lived south of the border and still has family there.