Botched Isa Muazu deportation opens door to judicial review
Theresa May's failure to follow official rules in the deportation of Isa Muazu has opened the door to a legal challenge, Politics.co.uk can reveal.
Lawyers for the Nigerian asylum seeker are launching a judicial review on Monday which will claim that the home secretary failed to provide proper notification of removal directions before the deportation.
Rules stipulate that the secretary of state must provide five clear working days' warning to a detainee before they are deported on a charter flight.
Muazu was originally set to be deported on a scheduled Virgin Atlantic flight, which would only have required 72 hours' warning.
But that flight was mysteriously cancelled following a pressure campaign by supporters and a chartered flight was purchased to take him to Nigeria less than 48 hours later.
That attempted deportation eventually ended in embarrassment for the home secretary when it was revealed that it lacked landing authorisation and was turned around by Nigerian authorities.
The botched deportation cost the taxpayer up to £180,000, but it may also have provided a legal lifeline to the asylum seeker, who was not given the five days' notice required by law.
"This is what we wanted all along, and thanks to the home secretary's incompetence we now have it," said Toufique Hossain, immigration law director at Duncan Lewis Solicitors, which represents Muazu.
Lawyers will also use the judicial review hearing at the upper tribunal to challenge the original asylum rejection.
Muazu claims he will be targeted by Islamic terror group Boka Haram if he is returned to Nigeria, after the group reportedly killed several members of his family.
But his request was rejected on the basis that he could move to another part of the country and seek protection from the state.
Lawyers will argue next Monday that Muazu's mental health problems mean he is unable to move around the country.
They will also suggest that because of news coverage of his hunger strike and asylum battle, simply moving within the country will not be sufficient to keep him safe from Boko Haram.
"To even consider putting Isa through such tribulations again – for something that is not his fault – would be unforgivable," Lord Roberts of Llandudno commented.
"Though I am pleased to learn that the Theresa May has been restrained from removing Isa until the outcome of his hearing, ultimately, his life is in her hands."
Muazu had been on hunger strike for 90 days at the point he was deported last week and could neither see nor stand.
Doctors deemed him unfit to fly, but the Home Office proceeded with the deportation despite the protests of human rights groups.