FOUR-year-old Trinity loves Cinderella, dancing and books. She also loves her mum Edirin and dad Simeon. But Trinity has only seen her parents via Skype for the past three years and seven months after illness forced the Obirenfoju family apart – and the Home Office kept them that way.

Simeon, 38, said: “We miss her so much.”

The family’s story begins in 2011, before Trinity’s birth, when chemistry graduate Simeon left Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta State for Scotland.

The move completed a dream which began after the keen photographer watched Braveheart and fell in love with the landscapes, clothing and history.

Working remotely for a Nigerian firm part-time to keep his earnings above the legal threshold, he secured a series of jobs in the private sector before joining tax agency HMRC.

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Living under a temporary visa for highly-skilled migrants, he aimed to follow the five-year residency route to a permanent life in Scotland, which he says is “the most beautiful environment” he has ever seen.

After a wedding in Nigeria – at which Simeon surprised Edirin in a kilt – she joined him as his wife and, setting up home in East Kilbride, they were soon joined by Trinity, their first child.

But shortly after her birth, Edirin suffered a devastating stroke as a consequence of inherited blood disorder sickle cell anaemia.

It caused paralysis on both her left and right sides and her mother, Joy Oboro, flew from Nigeria to help with her new granddaughter as Edirin began physiotherapy to relearn how to walk and use her arms.

But when the Scottish climate exacerbated Joy’s own health problems and with no other support in South Lanarkshire, the family decided they had no choice but to allow grandmother and baby to fly back to Delta state.

They thought it would be just a short separation. However, they have now been apart for almost four years after the Home Office rejected Simeon’s application for long-term residency and removed his right to work, also leaving him unable to secure the permission needed to bring his daughter home.

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Though Edirin has recovered her health, the couple lost their home and income, becoming destitute and contemplating suicide. And while the arrival of seven-month-old son Othniel has helped, it has also brought it home how much they miss the sister he has never met.

The family’s lawyer Boniface Chimpango, of Crown & Law Solicitors in Manchester, says the Home Office decision is wrong, their health visitor says the couple has been left in “extreme stress” and Robina Qureshi of charity Positive Action in Housing (PAIH) says it is yet more evidence of the cost of Theresa May’s “hostile environment”.

The couple say they “just want to return to our lives” and reunite their family. Edirin, 35, said: “We only expected to be apart for a few months. It’s been years.

“Trinity’s really sensitive, saying ‘mummy I need you, come and get me, I want to be with my brother’. We used to send money and presents for her. Right now, we can’t even fend for ourselves. If I hadn’t had the stroke, she would be with us, but there was nothing we could do. I just have to be strong for her. We regret it, but that was the only solution we had.”

Simeon added: “If my application is approved, I will bring Trinity over the next day. I have always worked hard to support my family. Not being able support my little boy and my daughter together is tearing me apart.”

Chimpago took Simeon’s residency rejection to a specialist tribunal in October last year, when the Home Office withdrew from the case and committed to reviewing his application and issuing a new decision within three months. But instead of doing so, they demanded evidence on earnings and family details that had already been provided and more information on self-employment – even though Simeon has never been self-employed.

Chimpago told the Sunday National: “It’s surprising. My take is that it is erroneous. We are preparing a response to that letter to say ‘you seem to be mistaken’ and express concern.

“The reasons for refusal are the most unreasonable you can imagine – it is the Home Office going back on their previous decision.

“Someone who has done the right things is being punished for that. This is a system that is broken and not fit for purpose.”

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Last month the family’s health visitor prepared a written statement about the “extreme stress” Simeon and Edirin are living under and their “great distress” about Trinity, adding: “Poor parental mental health has been proven to have implications on the health and wellbeing outcomes for children.

“The family are keen to have this matter resolved to enable them to return to work and to their previous lifestyle as responsible citizens and effective contributors to society.”

Simeon says the situation has transformed him, saying: “This person speaking is not me. I have lost my entire confidence. I went through a rigorous process to work for HMRC; we had to do exams. Look at the quality of education I have and what I have contributed – I have a clean criminal record, why do this to my family?”

He went on: “I can’t even speak to my daughter, I rush to speak to her before emotion comes on so I don’t show that weakness, because she wouldn’t understand.

“One day I didn’t realise I was crying and she said ‘what’s happening?’ I said I had hit my eyes just to make her feel nothing was wrong.

The family now relies on food banks to get by in temporary accommodation. Neighbours Kevin McIver and Min Guo describe them as ideal to live next to, and the women even shared the same due date for their youngest children. They now attend mother-and-baby groups together and Guo said: “They need their daughter, especially when they have a new wee one. My eldest is also around the same age as theirs and I can totally understand they want to stay together.”

PAIH placed the couple with a host family after they became destitute in winter 2017, when they spent days sitting in fast food outlets “just to be somewhere”.

Host Pamela, who has asked the Sunday National not to use her full name, says their treatment by the UK immigration system is “bewildering”. She said: “Their case has just been going from person to person and delay after delay, and it is faceless. It’s very hard to see people you care about going through such a struggle. If Scotland was able to deal with its own immigration system it would work much more smoothly.”

The family’s case comes just a week after the Sunday National revealed how two Glasgow-born brothers and their Georgian parents face being ripped from their home and extended family in the city under a Home Office decision. The Scottish Government has repeatedly urged the UK Government to devolve responsibility over immigration to keep families together, address skills shortages and encourage population growth.

However, Westminster has said it has no plans to make changes.

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Calling for major reform of the system, PAIH director Robina Qureshi said: “There is nothing that surprises me about the way the Home Office treats people. It was under Theresa May as Home Secretary that an inspection uncovered a backlog of thousands of applications dating back 10 years dumped in an office. This is a reminder of how inept and incompetent the Home Office is.”

Migration Minister Ben Macpherson (pictured above) said: “People from all over the world who choose to settle in Scotland make valuable and often vital contributions to our economy, public services and communities. We want Scotland to continue to be a welcoming, progressive, diverse country – that’s why we continue to call for a different approach to immigration, with more powers for the Scottish Parliament.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “All immigration applications are considered on their individual merits and on the basis of the evidence available, in line with the immigration rules.”