Mercy Baguma death: 'I want our son to play for Scotland'

By Catriona Renton
BBC Scotland

  • Published
Media caption,

Building a new life for Mercy Baguma's son

The ex-partner of a Ugandan asylum seeker whose body was found in a Glasgow flat with her distressed child wants their son to play for Scotland.

Eric Nnanna revealed his dreams for 18-month old Adriel after recalling the moment he was told Mercy Baguma, 34, was dead.

Mr Nnanna said it was a "miracle" the boy, who was found in his cot with an empty milk bottle, survived his ordeal.

Ms Baguma's death has prompted calls for changes to the UK's asylum system.

In his first broadcast interview Mr Nnanna told BBC Reporting Scotland he wants to build a life in Glasgow with Adriel and plans to start football coaching when the toddler turns five.

He said: "I want the future to be in Scotland. I also want him to play for the Scottish national team."

Ms Baguma's sister Sarah Nakendo has suggested the child could be raised by the family in Uganda.

Image source, Eric Nnanna
Image caption,
Adriel and his mother Mercy during a day out in a park

Mr Nnanna, who is also seeking asylum, described how he has been reduced to tears when the boy has mentioned his mother.

He said: "I remember how she used to hold him, how they used to bond together. It is just so sad.

"Adriel was the love of her life."

Mr Nnanna last saw Ms Baguma on Tuesday 19 August in her flat in Govan.

But when he returned to the property on Saturday 22 August he was forced to call the police after he heard Adriel inside.

Mr Nnanna said: "At that point I was so devastated. I was so weak. I knew that something had happened because there was no one answering the door. I could only hear Adriel."

Officers soon arrived and broke down the door but told Mr Nnanna to stay behind.

Ms Baguma's body was found in the hallway while her son was in his cot.

Image caption,
Eric Nnanna hopes to build a life in Glasgow with his son

Mr Nnanna, 30, said: "When they brought him out he was holding an empty bottle of milk.

"He had marks on his skin as he had cried for so many days."

Asked for his reaction to the fact his son was still alive, he said: "I couldn't believe Adriel had survived for those few days.

"I could feel his bones and he couldn't even talk. He couldn't even recognise me.

"He surviving was a miracle."

Mr Nnanna met Ms Baguma in a phone shop in the west end of Glasgow in 2017 and they started messaging each other on Facebook.

He said she was a "fun loving person" and carried out voluntary work for the British Heart Foundation and Citizens Advice.

Mr Nnanna described Ms Baguma as an "amazing mum" and told how the couple always fed the boy home-cooked meals.

The circumstances of her death are unclear. They have been described as "unexplained but not suspicious".

Image source, Eric Nnanna
Image caption,
The couple celebrate Adriel's first birthday

Mr Nnanna, who is preparing to start an engineering course at Strathclyde University, said he was still trying to process what happened and was helping his son come to terms with the loss of his mother.

He said: "Adriel needs a lot of love. He needs a lot of reassurance because those few days he was in there crying with no help and no one there to comfort him so he felt like the whole world had abandoned him."

Last weekend a memorial service was held for Ms Baguma at Elder Park in the city's Govan area.

Her body was flown from Edinburgh to Uganda, on Friday and a funeral ceremony was held by her family on Monday.

The remembrance service was organised because Mr Nnanna and his son were unable to attend the funeral.

Crowdfunding appeal

The charity Positive Action in Housing (PAIH) said the cost of repatriating Ms Baguma's body was met by a crowdfunding appeal.

It said the remaining funds, totalling about £75,000, would be placed in a trust for her son.

Her death has prompted calls for reform of the asylum system in the UK.

PAIH has called for a public inquiry into her death and those of other asylum seekers in Glasgow, as well as into asylum seeker accommodation in the city.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said "wholesale reform" of the asylum system was needed, starting from "the principle of dignity, of empathy and of support for our fellow human beings".

The Home Office said it would investigate Ms Baguma's case.