Border chiefs are defending their move to deport a gay Nigerian asylum seeker, despite a campaign from his supporters in Bradford.

Friends of Ola Ayelokun say he will die if he is flown back to the country he fled from eight years ago to escape persecution because of his sexuality.

But they fear time is running out for him, because a judge at Bradford’s Immigration Court refused to believe he was a homosexual.

The nursing student’s friends have set up a Facebook group and an online petition to try and stop him from being forced onto a plane back to Africa on October 6. His solicitor, Mark Taylor, is going to the High Court in a bid to get the judge’s decision reversed.

However, a UK Border Agency spokesman said Mr Ayelokun had lived in the UK illegally, having overstayed a visit visa that expired in 2003.

The spokesman said: “He did not claim asylum until 2011, after he was arrested by UK Border Agency officers for using false documents to gain employment.

“At no point has he been able to provide sufficient evidence of his sexuality and our decision not to grant him asylum has been upheld by an independent immigration judge.”

But Mr Ayelokun’s solicitor branded the judge’s decision in May as “extraordinary”, claiming three former sexual partners and other friends from the gay scene gave evidence on oath that his client was a genuine homosexual.

He said: “This young man is undoubtedly gay. The reality is he will die if he goes back to Nigeria. Homosexuality is an offence there and there is Sharia law in some places, so the reality is that he will die.”

Mr Ayelokun was detained on Tuesday after a routine appointment at the Border Agency’s Waterside Court offices in Leeds.

His friend Jason Feather said: “This is life or death for Ola. David Cameron pledged in 2010 that Africans seeking asylum on the basis of sexual orientation and at real risk of persecution in their home countries should be allowed to stay in the UK. We are hoping the Prime Minister will step in and keep his word.”