Deadline for deportation: Home secretary must show mercy or ‘consider her position’

A Liberal Democrat peer has urged Theresa May to show mercy to a Nigerian asylum seeker or "consider her position" if he is forcibly deported from the UK tthis week.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno yesterday visited Isa Muazu, who has not eaten in 90 days, and found him to weigh just 50 kilograms and to be no longer able to see or stand.

He was due to be deported this evening on a Virgin Atlantic flight to Nigeria but the removal has now been delayed until Friday.

Muazu says he expects to be targeted by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, who have already reportedly killed several members of his family.

A doctor's report this morning found he was not 'fit to fly', but the Home Office is pressing ahead with the deportation anyway.

Lords Roberts is holding a meeting with the home secretary tomorrow in which he will urge her to show clemency.

"If she continues in this way and doesn't exercise clemency, she would have to consider her position as home secretary," Lord Roberts told

"He's so weak. His voice in very faint. I could hardly hear him. He looked terrible.

"He looked like he was about to die.

"We've abolished capital punishment and slavery. But we're allowing a person to die for what is a very minor offence – for overstaying a visitors' pass by a little while. This is a time for clemency, for mercy – to temper justice.

He added: "If there isn’t a better way to deal with asylum problems we're in a very bleak situation indeed.

"When he lands in Nigeria, what happens to him then? There's no-one there to greet or care for him. Is he dumped on the runway? It shows how inhumane our immigration situation is."

Lord Roberts has written a letter to the home secretary co-signed by MPs John McDonnell, Jeremy Beecham, Julian Huppert, Baroness Lane-Fox, Baroness Tonge, Baroness Kidron, Baroness Sharp and Baroness Lister, among others.

Speaking to, former Liberal Democrat minister Sarah Teather called on Virgin Atlantic to refuse to accept Muazu on the plane due to the concerns about his health.

"I would urge Virgin Atlantic to very carefully consider whether Mr Muazu is in anything like a fit state to fly – after so long without food, I sincerely doubt that he is," she said.

"That the government is rushing to deport a man who is prepared to starve himself to death rather than be returned says everything about the culture of disbelief towards individuals fleeing persecution that is a defining characteristic of the UK's asylum process.

"I find it hard to believe that a man who has refused to eat for over 90 days is playing the system and being wilfully manipulative.

"Instead these are the actions of a desperate man who clearly fears for his safety should he be returned to Nigeria."

Her comments follow those of John Packer, bishop of Ripon and Leeds, who also urged Virgin to refuse to conduct the deportation.

"It cannot be right to deport someone to Nigeria when they are in danger of attack from Boko Haram," Packer told

"It also cannot be right to deport someone who is close to death.

"My appeal to Virgin Atlantic would be to refuse to accept on their flight someone who is not fit to fly.

"This seems an astonishing decision by the Home Office and I urge the home secretary to re-consider it in the name of both justice and mercy."

One hundred award winning actors, theatre directors, playwrights, lawyers, leading NGOs and community organisations have also written to May appealing for clemency for the detained hunger striker.

The signatories include actors Juliet Stevenson, Dame Harriet Walter, Cush Jumbo, Khalid Abdallah and playwrights Howard Brenton, author Stella Duffy and comedians Mark Thomas and Daniel Kitson. Leading NGOs, such as Liberty, Reprieve and Amnesty International have also signed the letter.

Virgin and the Home Office said they do not comment on individual cases.