Fears for hunger striker Isa Muazu as he is deported to Nigeria

 

A man who spent nearly 100 days on hunger strike in immigration detention has been deported back to Nigeria after failed Court of Appeal attempts to remain in the UK.

Lawyers for Isa Muazu, 45, said they worked through the night to try to prevent his deportation, but an appeal judge rejected an injunction request in the early hours of this morning.

They said they would now consider an out-of-country appeal of behalf of Mr Muazu, whose weight has dropped to just 53 kilos, despite his 5ft 11in height, prompting fears that he will not survive the flight.

The Home Office confirmed Mr Muazu left the UK in a private jet this morning, but his lawyers said the department did not comment on his wellbeing.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno, who intends to raise the case in the House of Lords next week, said Mr Muazu's life was now in danger.

"Isa Muazu's removal from the UK and potential death on a flight or upon arrival in Nigeria is not only a tragedy but an end to the UK's reputation as a country with humane, civilised, just policies and government," the Liberal Democrat said.

"(Home Secretary) Theresa May must consider her position and her immigration control policies.

"Looking 'tough' on immigration simply must not descend to the low of allowing people to die to score a political point. We urgently need to review the systems of immigration detention, 'fast track' and enforced removal."

More than 120 people attended a vigil for Mr Muazu outside the Home Office last night.

Organiser Nancy Maller reacted to the news of his deportation by saying it would be the UK immigration system's fault if Mr Muazu died.

"This is a precedent setting moment in which the Home Office have failed to listen to pleas of mercy, justice, independent medical experts and legal arguments in order to show that they are tough on immigrants," she said.

"In flexing their muscles, they have shown how truly cruel and inhumane this government is."

Toufique Hussain, the solicitor from Duncan Lewis who put in the last minute injunctions overnight said Ms May went to "great lengths" to remove Mr Muazu from the UK, by not allowing him an in-country right of appeal against his asylum refusal and instead hiring a private charter plane to remove Mr Muazu at taxpayers' expense.

"We do not know how Mr Muazu is as we lost contact with him late last night," Mr Hussain said.

"We fear for his safety now on return but we will be looking at pursuing further appeals if we do make contact with him in Nigeria. He should not have been removed from the UK."

Mr Muazu told a Court of Appeal earlier this week that he would “rather die” than be deported. He first arrived in the UK on a visitor's visa in 2007 but overstayed, saying he faced persecution at the hands of Boko Haram, a hardline Islamist group. His application to remain was refused, and he was detained by the immigration authorities for removal on July 25 this year.

Mr Muazu was challenging a ruling by High Court judge Mr Justice Ouseley last week that Ms May was not holding him unlawfully as it was his own decision to refuse food and fluids.

However, the judge did say that Mr Muazu should be kept under review after it was argued that his death would defeat the purpose of his detention, which was to hold him pending deportation as an overstayer in the UK.

Mr Muazu's appeal against the judge's ruling was dismissed by Lord Justice Lewison, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Sir Stanley Burnton.

Additional reporting by PA

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