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US Court of Appeals
FOR PUBLICATION

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

DAVID OLUSEGUN AKINMADE,
Petitioner,                                           No. 97-71227


v.                                                    INS No.
                                                     A72-898-030
IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION
SERVICE,                                              OPINION
Respondent.


On Petition for Review of an Order of the
Board of Immigration Appeals


Argued and Submitted
September 15, 1999--Pasadena, California


Filed November 5, 1999

Before: Stephen Reinhardt, Charles Wiggins, and
Michael Daly Hawkins, Circuit Judges.


Opinion by Judge Reinhardt;
Dissent by Judge Wiggins


_________________________________________________________________



SUMMARY

The summary, which does not constitute a part of the opinion of the court,
is copyrighted C 1999 by West Group.
_________________________________________________________________


Immigration/Deportation and Asylum

The court of appeals reversed a decision of the Board of
Immigration Appeals (BIA). The court held that in asylum
proceedings, the Immigration and Naturalization Service
(INS) cannot base an adverse credibility determination solely
on the refugee's submission of false documents to immigra-


                               13363


tion officials for the purpose of escaping immediate danger in
the alien's homeland or country of resettlement, or gaining
entry into the United States.


After being jailed, beaten, and tortured by Nigerian police
for his involvement in a dissident student union and peaceful
anti-government activities, petitioner David Akinmade
escaped his captors. When he learned that the police were
looking for him and that his life was in danger, Akinmade
determined that he had to flee the country. He took a plane to
South Korea, which did not require Nigerian passport-holders
to carry a visa.


When Akinmade entered the United States with a false
Canadian passport, immigration officials detained him. Akin-
made acknowledged that the passport was fraudulent,
explained that his life was in danger in Nigeria, and requested
asylum.


In testimony before an immigration judge (IJ) and in an
affidavit, Akinmade recounted the events leading to his depar-
ture from Nigeria. He explained that while he was in South
Korea, a good Samaritan befriended him, secured him the
false Canadian passport, and paid for his airfare to the United
States.


The IJ denied Akinmade's request for asylum and with-
holding of deportation on credibility grounds, concluding that
Akinmade made inconsistent statements about his torture by
Nigerian police and regarding the number of demonstrations
in which he had participated. The IJ also found that Akinmade
did not provide sufficient details on the nature of his arrest
and detention; and that aspects of his account, including his
role as a student activist and his escape, were implausible.


The BIA dismissed Akinmade's appeal. However, the BIA
relied only on three factors relating to Akinmade's fraudulent
entry: his inability to explain the prior chain of custody of the


                               13364


Canadian passport; demonstrate the time of his arrival in
South Korea; and establish his date of birth by an appropriate
certificate.


The district court granted Akinmade's habeas corpus peti-
tion, concluding that the three factors the BIA relied on were
impermissible grounds for an adverse credibility finding. The
court remanded the case to the BIA with instructions to render
a decision without reference to the three factors it had relied
on initially.


On remand, the BIA again determined that Akinmade's
story was not credible, and denied relief on that ground.
Despite the district court's instructions, the BIA referred to its
rejection of Akinmade's explanation regarding the chain of
custody of his Canadian passport.


In addition, the BIA cited other reasons for its adverse
credibility determination: that Akinmade's fraudulent entry
into the United States was inconsistent with his claim to be
fleeing persecution; he made inconsistent statements about his
role in a student union and his torture by the Nigerian police;
and he failed to provide corroboration for aspects of his story.
The BIA also adopted the IJ's conclusions regarding purport-
edly inconsistent and implausible statements in Akinmade's
asylum application.


Akinmade petitioned for review.

[1] Minor inconsistencies do not constitute a valid ground
on which to base a finding that an asylum applicant is not
credible, particularly when they reveal nothing about an appli-
cant's fear for his safety. Adverse credibility findings must be
supported by specific, cogent reasons, and the reasons set
forth must be substantial and bear a legitimate nexus to the
finding.


[2] The BIA erroneously concluded that Akinmade's fraud-
ulent entry into the United States was inconsistent with his


                               13365


claim to be fleeing persecution. False statements to the INS
regarding nationality by themselves are not reason for refusal
of refugee status, and it is the examiner's responsibility to
evaluate such statements in light of all the circumstances of
the case. Akinmade's misrepresentations were wholly consis-
tent with his claim to be fleeing persecution. A genuine refu-
gee escaping persecution may lie about his citizenship to
immigration officials in order to flee his place of persecution
or secure entry into the United States.


[3] The BIA has set forth a clear division between two cate-
gories of false document presentations: (1) in an asylum adju-
dication for the purpose of establishing the elements of an
asylum claim; and (2) for the purpose of escaping immediate
danger from an alien's country of origin or resettlement, or
for the purpose of gaining entry into the United States. In the
second category, the use of false documents to facilitate travel
or gain entry does not impute a lack of credibility to the appli-
cant. [4] Akinmade's use of fraudulent documents fell into the
second category, and could not serve as a basis for an adverse
credibility determination.


[5] The BIA also erroneously relied on the fact that Akin-
made's account of his acquisition of the false passport and air-
line ticket was implausible. Whether Akinmade was directly
involved in falsifying the passport, or lied about how he
obtained his airline ticket, had little, if anything, to do with
whether he fled Nigeria for fear of persecution. Moreover, the
district court vacated the initial BIA decision with the instruc-
tion not to rely on the chain of custody of the passport in
determining the credibility of his asylum claim. Even if Akin-
made lied about his involvement in the forging of the pass-
port, or about how he obtained his airline ticket, those acts
would not have supported an adverse credibility determina-
tion. The alleged conduct concerned facilitating travel and
entry into the United States, and was incidental to Akin-
made's claim of persecution.


                               13366


[6] Contrary to the BIA's contention, the record showed
that Akinmade explained that the police beat and tortured
him. Both his affidavit and testimony adequately included ref-
erences to those experiences. In addition, a concern that the
affidavit was not as complete as could be desired could not,
without more, properly serve as a basis for a finding of lack
of credibility.


[7] The record revealed that Akinmade maintained a con-
sistent account concerning his role in the student union. The
supposed discrepancies identified by the BIA were minor or
non-existent, and did not provide a valid basis for an adverse
credibility determination.


[8] Authentic refugees rarely are able to offer direct corrob-
oration of specific threats or specific incidents of persecution.
An alien's unrefuted and credible testimony may therefore be
sufficient. Furthermore, his act of abandoning his studies and
fleeing his country of origin corroborated his testimony.
Akinmade's account was more than adequately corroborated
by descriptions of the political situation in Nigeria contained
in the Department of State Report and Amnesty International
publications.


[9] The IJ erroneously concluded that Akinmade made
inconsistent statements regarding the number of demonstra-
tions in which he participated and the date of his confronta-
tion with the police. The IJ misread or misunderstood
Akinmade's affidavit. Fragments of the affidavit the IJ used
to impeach Akinmade's credibility involved grammatical
problems that did not constitute a valid basis for a credibility
determination.


[10] The IJ erroneously faulted Akinmade for not providing
further details about the location and manner of his arrest and
mistreatment by the police. The IJ's concern for more specific
information did not constitute a valid ground for denying
Akinmade's claim, especially when Akinmade was not given


                               13367


notice that he should provide such information, nor asked to
do so by either the IJ or the INS' counsel. Akinmade's
account was sufficiently descriptive of the pertinent events.


[11] The remainder of the IJ's analysis was based on specu-
lation and conjecture about Akinmade's account. The other
concerns identified by the IJ (such as whether Akinmade's
girlfriend could have possessed his passport) did not raise
substantial reasons or serious enough doubts for an adverse
credibility determination. Even if the alleged inconsistencies
existed, they were insufficient to warrant an adverse credibil-
ity determination.


[12] The BIA's credibility determination rested on insuffi-
cient and impermissible grounds. The BIA did not suggest
reasons, other than credibility concerns, for denying Akin-
made's request for asylum and withholding of deportation.
The evidence he presented was so compelling that no reason-
able factfinder could fail to find the requisite fear of persecu-
tion. Akinmade was eligible for asylum, and could not be
deported to Nigeria.


Judge Wiggins dissented, writing that the evidence was suf-
ficient to support the conclusion that Akinmade unlawfully
entered the United States by using a false passport.


_________________________________________________________________

COUNSEL

Thomas P. Redick, McKenna & Cuneo, San Diego, Califor-
nia, for the petitioner.


Francis W. Fraser, Office of Immigration Litigation, United
States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for the
respondent.


_________________________________________________________________

                               13368


OPINION

REINHARDT, Circuit Judge:

David Akinmade petitions for review of the Board of
Immigration Appeals' (BIA) decision denying his request for
asylum and withholding of deportation. The BIA based its
denial on an adverse credibility determination. That determi-
nation rests on insufficient and impermissible grounds. We
deem the petitioner's testimony credible. We reverse the
BIA's decision and remand so that the Attorney General may
exercise her discretion under section 208(a) of the Refugee
Act of 1980, 8 U.S.C. S 1158(a) (1990) with respect to peti-
tioner's asylum request and grant his request for withholding
of deportation.


I. FACTS

The petitioner testified to the following facts. In late 1994,
Akinmade began his university studies at the Agege College
of Technology in Lagos, Nigeria. Two months later, he
decided to join the student union, a local chapter of the
National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). The
union served as a forum for its members to discuss their
grievances against the university and their political opposition
to the military government, headed by the notorious General
Abacha.


At the time Akinmade joined the student union, the politi-
cal climate in Nigeria was heating up. Throughout 1994 and
the first half of 1995, episodic civil unrest had been occurring
in urban areas. The brutal Abacha regime had begun clamping
down on dissent by escalating its harassment of pro-
democracy groups such as labor leaders, journalists, and stu-
dent activists. See U.S. Dep't of State Asylum Claims &
C'ntry Condtns. Rept., July 1995. To stamp out any sem-
blance of democratic expression, security forces resorted to


                               13369


excessive use of force including arbitrary detention, mass
arrests, and summary killings of peaceful protestors. Id.


Despite the risks, Akinmade became an active member of
the student union. He joined his college's NANS chapter on
January 10, 1995 and attended the organization's following
two monthly meetings. On March 28, 1995, Akinmade, along
with fellow members of the student union, helped organize a
peaceful demonstration in the Lagos city streets. Akinmade
decided to participate in the demonstration because in his
view "it was a crucial one": the demonstration was planned by
NANS and it was primarily directed to the peaceful overthrow
of the military dictatorship.


The student union began the demonstration on the street
and walked through to the city center. There, they were con-
fronted by the police who came specifically looking for mem-
bers of the student union. The police opened fire killing
fifteen students and injuring many more. The police also
arrested and jailed twenty-five students, including the peti-
tioner and the secretary of the student union. The police took
Akinmade's fingerprints and confiscated his identification
card.


In detention, Akinmade and other students were tortured by
the police. The police used electrical shocks and cut parts of
Akinmade's body with a knife. They also beat him by hitting
his genitalia with a heavy stick. The students were later taken
outside the jail and placed in two vehicles. Akinmade over-
heard one police officer informing another that they were tak-
ing the students to a place where no one would find them or
find out what happened. Shortly before leaving, a distraction
occurred and Akinmade, along with two other students,
climbed from their vehicle and ran. The police fired at them,
but Akinmade was able to escape. He hid for two days. He
was told by friends that the police were looking for him and
that his life was in danger. Akinmade then fled the country.
He left Nigeria on March 30, 1995, and subsequently


                               13370


attempted to enter the United States at the Los Angeles Inter-
national Airport on April 28, 1995.


With respect to his escape and his later entry, Akinmade
testified that, with the help of a contact who worked with the
immigration service, he left the country on a plane to South
Korea. He chose South Korea because that country does not
require a Nigerian passport-holder to carry a visa. In South
Korea, Akinmade had difficulty communicating with others
because the majority of Koreans do not speak English. Akin-
made slept in subway stations and roamed the streets for sev-
eral days. Akinmade asserts that he had the good fortune to
meet a Canadian citizen who took pity on him. This person,
he contends, secured him a false Canadian passport and paid
for his airfare.


When Akinmade arrived at the Los Angeles International
Airport, he was stopped by an immigration official and con-
fronted with the fact that his passport was fraudulent. Akin-
made acknowledged its falsity, explained that his life was in
jeopardy in Nigeria, and requested asylum. The Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS) placed him in detention and
commenced exclusion proceedings.


II. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS BELOW

On June 30, 1995, Akinmade's case was heard by an Immi-
gration Judge (IJ) who denied his request for asylum and
withholding of deportation on credibility grounds. The IJ con-
cluded: (i) the petitioner made inconsistent statements regard-
ing the nature of his torture by the Nigerian police; (ii) the
petitioner made inconsistent statements regarding the number
of demonstrations in which he participated; (iii) the petitioner
did not provide sufficient details of the nature of his arrest and
detention; and (iv) aspects of the petitioner's account, includ-
ing his being a student activist and his escape from Nigeria,
were implausible. Akinmade appealed to the BIA. The BIA
dismissed his appeal, also on the basis of a credibility deter-


                               13371


mination. The BIA relied, however, only on three factors, all
of which related to Akinmade's fraudulent entry, namely, his
inability to: (i) explain the prior chain of custody of the Cana-
dian passport; (ii) demonstrate his time of arrival in South
Korea; and (iii) establish his date of birth by an appropriate
certificate. The BIA referred approvingly to the IJ's opinion,
but did not expressly adopt the IJ's conclusions as its own.
Akinmade petitioned the United States District Court for the
Central District of California for habeas corpus relief. The
district court granted Akinmade's petition. The court held that
each of the three factors the BIA explicitly relied on in its
decision constituted an illegitimate ground for an adverse
credibility finding. The court remanded the record to the BIA
instructing the BIA to render a decision without reference to
these three factors and with an explicit clarification if it
intended to adopt the IJ's findings. The INS did not appeal.


In October 1997, the BIA again determined that Akin-
made's account was not credible and denied relief on that
basis. Notwithstanding the district court's instructions, the
BIA again referred to its rejection of petitioner's account con-
cerning the chain of custody of his fraudulent passport. The
BIA also announced several other reasons for reaching its
adverse credibility determination, including: (i) that the peti-
tioner's fraudulent entry into the United States was inconsis-
tent with his claim to be fleeing persecution; (ii) that the
petitioner made inconsistent statements regarding his role in
the student union; (iii) that the petitioner made inconsistent
statements regarding the nature of his torture by the Nigerian
police; and (iv) that the petitioner failed to provide corrobora-
tion for various aspects of his account. In an explicit but gen-
eral statement, the BIA also adopted the IJ's conclusions
regarding other purportedly inconsistent and implausible
statements in the petitioner's application. Akinmade peti-

tioned for review and we took jurisdiction under 8 U.S.C.
S 1105(a).


                               13372


III. ANALYSIS

[1] We review the BIA's credibility findings under the sub-
stantial evidence standard. See Lopez-Reyes v. INS, 79 F.3d
908, 911 (9th Cir. 1996). Minor errors or inconsistencies,
however, "do not constitute `a valid ground upon which to
base a finding that an asylum applicant is not credible,' " par-
ticularly where those inconsistencies reveal nothing about an
applicant's fear for his safety. Martinez-Sanchez v. INS, 794
F.2d 1396, 1400 (9th Cir. 1986) (citations omitted); Osorio v.
INS, 99 F.3d 928, 931 (9th Cir. 1996). Adverse credibility
findings must be supported by "specific, cogent reason[s],"
Turcios v. INS, 821 F.2d 1396, 1399 (9th Cir. 1987), and the
reasons set forth must be "substantial and must bear a legiti-
mate nexus to the finding." Aguilera-Cota v. INS, 914 F.2d
1375, 1381 (9th Cir. 1990); Lopez-Reyes, 79 F.3d at 911.


A. Entry into the United States

[2] The BIA erroneously concluded that Akinmade's fraud-
ulent entry into the United States, namely his use of a false
Canadian passport and his declaration that he was a Canadian
citizen on a visit for pleasure, was inconsistent with his claim
to be fleeing persecution.1 The BIA stated: "[The applicant's]
initial false declaration upon arrival into the United States is
inconsistent with his claim that he was seeking asylum.
Instead, his false declaration, together with his altered pass-
_________________________________________________________________
1 At the outset of the immigration hearing, Akinmade admitted, first, to
the charge of seeking entry into the United States by fraud or willful mis-
representation under section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the Immigration and
Nationality Act and, second, to the charge of violating sections 212(a)(5)
(A)(i) and 212(a)(7)(A)(i)(I) of the Act. On this basis, the IJ appropriately
found Akinmade excludable. An excludable alien is barred from entering
the United States and may be deported. However, if the alien fears perse-

cution, he can request asylum or, in the alternative, withholding of depor-
tation. Akinmade's appeal does not concern the issue of excludability, but
instead the denial of his petition for asylum and withholding of deporta-
tion.


                               13373


port, is consistent with an attempt to enter the United States
for a purpose other than to flee persecution." In Turcios, we
held that an IJ's adverse credibility finding erroneously relied
on the fact that the petitioner lied about his citizenship to INS
officials and had entered the United States illegally. Turcios,
821 F.2d at 1396; see also Aguilera-Cota, 914 F.2d at 1382
n. 7. On three separate occasions Turcios had lied to INS offi-
cials by telling them he was from Mexico when he was actu-
ally from El Salvador. The Turcios court explained that false
statements to the INS regarding one's nationality "by them-
selves are not reason for refusal of refugee status and it is the
examiner's responsibility to evaluate such statements in the
light of all the circumstances of the case." Turcios, 821 F.2d
at 1400. The Turcios court recognized that in the circum-
stance of a refugee fleeing persecution, such "misrepresenta-
tions are wholly consistent with his testimony and application
for asylum: he did so because he feared deportation to [his

country of origin]. In this context, [the petitioner's] statement
to the INS does not detract from but supports his claim of fear
of persecution. It does not support a negative credibility
finding." Id. at 1400-01. Similarly, in the present circum-
stance, Akinmade's misrepresentations to immigration offi-
cials, in the course of fraudulently entering the United States,
are wholly consistent with his claim to be fleeing persecution.
As in Turcios, we recognize that a genuine refugee escaping
persecution may lie about his citizenship to immigration offi-
cials in order to flee his place of persecution or secure entry
into the United States. Id.


[3] The Turcios rule applies to false documents as well as
to false statements. After the BIA's decision in the present
case, the Board, in the case of In Re O-D-, Interim Decision
3334, 1998 WL 24904 (BIA), carefully considered the bear-
ing of an applicant's use of fraudulent documents upon credi-
bility determinations in asylum cases. The BIA set forth a
clear division between two categories of false document pre-
sentations: (1) the presentation of a fraudulent document in an
asylum adjudication for the purpose of establishing the ele-


                               13374


ments of an asylum claim; and (2) "the presentation of a
fraudulent document for the purpose of escaping immediate
danger from an alien's country of origin or resettlement, or
for the purpose of gaining entry into the United States."
(emphasis added). In O-D-, the applicant stated that he was
fleeing persecution from Mauritania. In the asylum proceed-
ing itself, the applicant presented two fraudulent documents to
the IJ claiming he was Mauritanian. The BIA concluded that
the applicant's presentation of the fraudulent documents,
"submitted to prove a central element of the claim in an asy-
lum adjudication, indicates his lack of credibility." O-D-,
1998 WL 24904. The BIA then carefully distinguished such
false presentations from those in the second category of cases.
In the second category, the use of false documents to facilitate
travel or gain entry does not serve to impute a lack of credibil-
ity to the petitioner. The BIA stated, "there may be reasons,
fully consistent with the claim of asylum, that will cause a

person to possess false documents, such as the creation and
use of a false document to escape persecution by facilitating
travel." Id.


[4] We agree with the BIA's classifications. We have also
previously distinguished, for purposes of credibility determi-
nations, false statements made to establish the critical ele-
ments of the asylum claim from false statements made to
evade INS officials. See Turcios, 821 F.2d at 1400-01;
Ceballos-Castillo v. INS, 904 F.2d 519, 520 (9th Cir. 1990).
The former, we have said, "involve[ ] the heart of the asylum
claim," while the latter we have termed "incidental" to the
asylum claim. See Ceballos, 904 F.2d at 520. As the BIA
made clear in O-D-, the same distinctions apply to the use of
fraudulent documents. Akinmade's use of fraudulent docu-
ments to gain entry into the United States by supporting his
claim that he was a Canadian citizen, like the claim itself,
clearly falls in the second category of cases described in O-D-
and cannot serve as a basis for an adverse credibility determi-
nation.


                               13375


[5] The BIA also erroneously relied on the fact that peti-
tioner's account of his acquisition of the false passport and
airline ticket was highly implausible. The BIA's analysis here
is subject to the same objections as its reasoning about the
petitioner's fraudulent means of entry. Whether the petitioner
was directly involved in falsifying the Canadian passport, or
whether he lied about how he obtained his airline ticket from
South Korea to the United States, has little, if anything, to do
with whether he fled Nigeria for fear of persecution. More-
over, in the habeas proceeding, the district court vacated and
remanded the initial BIA decision with the instruction not to
rely on the chain of custody of the false passport in determin-
ing the credibility of his asylum claim. We conclude that even
if the petitioner lied about his involvement in the forging of
the passport or about how he obtained his South Korean air-
line ticket, those acts would not support an adverse credibility
determination. As with his fraudulent entry, the alleged con-

duct concerns facilitating travel and entry into the United
States and is "incidental" to Akinmade's claim of persecution.
Ceballos, 904 F.2d at 520; In Re O-D-, 1998 WL 24904.


B. Experiences in Nigeria

[6] The BIA concluded that the petitioner gave an inconsis-
tent account of the nature of his mistreatment by the police.
The record, however, shows that, contrary to the BIA's con-
tention, the petitioner explained that the police both tortured
him, with electric shocks and a knife, and beat his genitalia
with a stick. Both his affidavit and testimony adequately
include references to these experiences. In addition, a concern
that the affidavit is not "as complete as might be desired can-
not, without more, properly serve as a basis for a finding of
lack of credibility." Aguilera-Cota, 914 F.2d at 1382; Lopez-
Reyes, 79 F.3d at 911.


[7] The BIA also found inconsistencies in the petitioner's
testimony concerning his role in the student union. Once
again, the record reveals that the petitioner maintained a con-


                               13376


sistent account. He explained that he was a member of the stu-
dent union, but as a student union member, was considered a
leader within the student body. The record indicates that any
discrepancies on this subject "were possibly the result of mis-
translation or miscommunication" and not a sufficient basis
for an adverse credibility finding. Vilorio-Lopez v. INS, 852
F.2d 1137, 1142 (9th Cir. 1988); Damaize-Job v. INS, 787
F.2d 1332, 1337 (9th Cir. 1986). The record also reflects that
when the IJ acted to resolve the translation difficulties, Akin-
made clearly explained he was not a leader, but a member, of
the student union. The IJ, in her decision, did not consider
Akinmade's testimony on this matter to be inconsistent. The
supposed discrepancies identified by the BIA are minor or
non-existent and do not provide a valid basis for an adverse
credibility determination.


[8] An additional reason the BIA gave for its credibility
finding was that Akinmade did not provide corroboration on
a number of issues. First, we have explicitly refused to require
corroboration in similar circumstances. See Turcios, 821 at
1403 ("Authentic refugees rarely are able to offer direct cor-
roboration of specific threats or specific incidents of persecu-
tion. Therefore, an alien's unrefuted and credible testimony
may be sufficient . . . . Furthermore, his act of abandoning his
studies and fleeing [his country of origin] corroborates his
testimony.") (citations omitted); Lopez-Reyes , 79 F.3d at 912;
Bolanos-Hernandez v. INS, 767 F.2d 1277, 1285 (9th Cir.
1985). We reaffirm that rule. Second, we conclude that the
petitioner's account was more than adequately corroborated
by the general descriptions of the political situation in Nigeria
contained in the U.S. Department of State Report and
Amnesty International publications.


[9] The BIA also expressly adopted the IJ's other observa-
tions on the petitioner's lack of credibility. The IJ's conclu-
sions, however, are not based on substantial evidence or valid
explanations. First, the IJ erroneously concluded that Akin-
made made inconsistent statements regarding the number of


                               13377


demonstrations in which he participated and the date of his
confrontation with the police. The IJ misread or misunder-
stood Akinmade's affidavit. The affidavit clearly indicates,
consistent with the petitioner's testimony, that he participated
only in the demonstrations that occurred on March 28, 1995.
On that day, his involvement in the demonstrations brought
him into direct confrontation with the police, and resulted in
his being arrested, booked, tortured, and later pursued by the
police. The fragments of the affidavit that the IJ used to
impeach Akinmade's credibility involve grammatical prob-
lems that do not constitute a valid basis for a credibility deter-
mination. See Osorio, 99 F.3d at 932.


[10] Second, the IJ erroneously faulted Akinmade for not
providing further details about the location and manner of his
arrest and his mistreatment by the police. The IJ's concern for
more specific information does not constitute a valid ground
for denying Akinmade's claim, especially when Akinmade
was not given notice that he should provide such information,
nor asked at the hearing to do so, either by the IJ or by coun-
sel for the INS. Akinmade's account is sufficiently descriptive
of the pertinent events.


[11] The remainder of the IJ's analysis is based on specula-
tion and conjecture about the petitioner's account. Some of
the IJ's reasons are even inconsistent with one another (e.g.,
speculating that the petitioner's father, as a member of the
middle class, had influence in the military government and
could therefore protect him; and speculating that the petitioner
would not risk student activism because his father was a civil
servant dependent on the government). The other concerns
identified by the IJ (such as whether Akinmade's girlfriend
could have had possession of his passport) do not raise sub-
stantial reasons or serious enough doubts for an adverse credi-
bility determination. See, e.g., Lopez-Reyes, 79 F.3d at 912
(reversing implausibility determination because the IJ "did
not set forth a `specific cogent reason' for his astonishment").
Even if the alleged inconsistences noted by the BIA existed,


                               13378


they would be insufficient collectively or otherwise to warrant
an adverse credibility finding.


C. Persecution on Account of Political Opinion

[12] We conclude that the BIA's credibility determination
rested on insufficient and impermissible grounds. As in other
similar cases, under these circumstances, we deem the peti-
tioner's testimony credible. See Aguilera-Cota , 914 F.2d at
1383; Damaize-Job, 787 F.2d at 1338. The BIA did not sug-
gest reasons, other than credibility concerns, for denying peti-
tioner's request for asylum and withholding of deportation.
Once found to be credible, "the evidence [the petitioner] pres-
ented was so compelling that no reasonable factfinder could
fail to find the requisite fear of persecution." INS v. Elias-
Zacarias, 502 U.S. 478, 483-84 (1992). The Nigerian military
regime had begun to crack down on democratic activism. In
this case, the police detained and tortured Akinmade on
account of his political opinion, more particularly his involve-
ment in anti-government, pro-democracy student activism.
Akinmade narrowly escaped being killed by the police and
fled the country while the authorities were still searching for

him. Under these circumstances, the petitioner is eligible for
asylum and may not be deported to Nigeria.


IV. CONCLUSION

The BIA erroneously denied the petitioner's request for
asylum and withholding of deportation. The BIA did not pro-
vide substantial reasons for concluding that petitioner's
account of persecution was not credible. Once the petitioner's
evidence is deemed credible, no reasonable factfinder could
fail to find the requisite degree of persecution on account of
political opinion. We reverse the BIA's denial of withholding
of deportation and remand the asylum claim so that the Attor-


                               13379


ney General may exercise her discretion under section 208(a)
of the Refugee Act of 1980, 8 U.S.C. S 1158(a) (1990).


REVERSED and REMANDED.

_________________________________________________________________

WIGGINS, Circuit Judge, Dissenting:

I respectfully dissent.

I believe the evidence is sufficient to find that the petitioner
gained unlawful admission into the United States by means of
a false Canadian passport. He made false statements to our
immigration officials concerning his fraudulent passport and
provided an exceedingly doubtful story concerning a good
Samaritan who provided him the money to purchase an airline
ticket from Seoul, Korea to Los Angeles, California.


The BIA concluded that he lied, not to Nigerian officials,
but to United States agents.


The majority explains the falsehoods away. I cannot.

I respectfully dissent.

                               13380


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