Theresa May could face MPs over failed Nigerian asylum seeker Isa Muazu's hunger strike


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The Independent Online

Theresa May could face Parliament over the case of a detained Nigerian man on hunger strike since his asylum application was rejected.

On Monday Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert tabled an urgent question on the case of Isa Muazu, but it was unclear on Monday morning whether the question would make it into the House of Commons schedule.

Mr Muazu, 45, was also subject to an urgent Home Office hearing on the same day.

Since his application was refused, he has been held at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre, near Heathrow airport, and has been on hunger strike for nearly 100 days. His lawyers have said he is "near death," and would consent to medical treatment in hospital if released on bail.

He reportedly claimed asylum on the basis that the Islamist group Boko Haram - which has caused regular trouble in Nigeria since its appearance four years ago - had threatened to kill him unless he joined them. He also says the group killed two members of his family.

Dr Huppert said: "It is extremely disappointing that Parliament has not had a chance to discuss why Isa Muazu has not been released from detention despite his condition. Mr Muazu is in an extremely fragile state and is in no condition to be deported.

"I hope that I will have an opportunity to bring this up with the Home Secretary in the near future, as well as the more general concerns about the use of detention for immigration purposes."

Jasmine Sallis, a volunteer caseworker who works with Muazu, wrote on "Isa has lost his vision, is suffering from severe chest pains and cannot breathe properly. The UK condemns other countries for human rights abuses but what is worse than condemning someone to death?"

Mr Muazu has said in a statement: "I am refusing to eat because my asylum claim was not treated fairly and I will not give up my protest."

But lawyers for the Home Secretary said the latest detention review had declared Mr Muazu fit to travel and they were planning his return to Nigeria. Last week the Home Office said he could be safely deported on a scheduled flight with medical escorts.

Eleanor Grey QC, for the minister, said granting him any interim order could lead to "copycat cases" involving other immigration detainees.

And a letter to the Home Secretary, sent on 20 November, signed by Lib Dem peer Baroness Shirley Williams, Green MP Caroline Lucas, and Labour MP John McDonnell among others, read: "As (Mr Muazu) is unfit for detention, we ask that you immediately release him on bail so that he may be admitted to hospital and receive the urgent medical treatment he clearly requires.

"We understand that he is now so near to death that there may not be enough time to appeal his case.

"We hope that you will reconsider releasing him from detention as a matter of urgency."