Deadline: The last-gasp battle to save Isa Muazu

The legal fight to save Nigerian asylum seeker Isa Muazu from deportation is going right down to the wire, ahead of a chartered flight due to remove him tomorrow.

Muazu's legal team has been working through the weekend to win a judicial review, while celebrities join a growing chorus of outrage against the deportation.

The Nigerian hunger striker, who had not eaten for 90 days, was originally deported last month despite a doctor's report saying he could not stand or see and was unfit to fly.

He returned to the UK several hours later at a cost to the taxpayer of up to £180,000, after the plane was refused landing permission due to the Home Office's failure to fill out the necessary paperwork.

He has a stay of deportation until the legal hearing is concluded. Judges will give a decision tomorrow morning at 10:00GMT, just 11 hours before his scheduled deportation flight.

Lawyers for Muazu say the home secretary failed to provide proper notification of removal directions before the original 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, but he was given just 48 hours.

Lawyers are also using 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 British asylum request was rejected on the basis that he could move to another part of the country and seek protection from the state.

Lawyers have argued 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.

Muazu has become something of a cause celebre among celebrities and human rights campaigners, who have been horrified at the Home Office decision to deport the Nigerian despite clear signs he might not have survived the flight.

Comedian Frankie Boyle, Harry Potter star Roger Lloyd-Pack, singer-songwriter Billy Bragg and many others have signed a letter demanding Theresa May release Muazu.

The letter reads:

"After the death of Jimmy Mubenga on a forced deportation flight to Angola at the hands of G4S, many said 'never again' but nothing has changed: it is happening again in slow motion to Isa Muazu.

"There have been 19 deaths in immigration detention centres in the UK over the last 25 years. Many more are believed to have died in war or from torture and persecution after they were forced to return into the hands of their persecutors after being refused asylum in the UK.

"Isa is a Nigerian failed asylum seeker who says he and his family have been persecuted by militants, the Boko Haram. He has been on hunger strike for over 100 days, endured a forced deportation attempt on a private jet, despite being found unfit to fly. The flight was forced to turn around and Isa is now again locked up in a high-security, prison-like immigration detention centre facing deportation on a mass charter flight.

"Isa is one of thousands of men, women and children incarcerated in immigration detention centres around the UK. The UK is one of the few countries in the world that has no time limit on the length of time a migrant can be detained for given this and the high death rate, it is not surprising that immigration detention is being dubbed by campaigners as the 'UK's death row'.

"We call on Theresa May to release Isa Muazu in the UK, and find humane alternatives to locking people up in immigration detention centres for months or even years."


Frankie Boyle

Mark Thomas

Josie Long

Roger Lloyd-Pack

Lemn Sissay

Daniel Kitson

Bill Bragg

Peter Tatchell

John McGrath

Daniel Evans

Mike Marqusee

Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein

Jeffrey Newman

Rabbi Emeritus

Revd Elisabeth Morse