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UK Home Secretary Criticized For Attempting To Deport ill Nigerian Asylum Seeker

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Ifa Muaza

Ifa Muaza PHOTO CREDIT: Guardian UK

An attempt to deport a terribly ill Nigerian Asylum seeker has been bungled. A Private jet  had been chartered by the government of the UK via the Home Office to deport Ifa Muaza who has been on a 100-day hunger strike. The plane conveying the immigration off and the ailing Nigerian man was denied entry into the Nigerian Airspace and the pilots had to re-route to Malta. A disagreement now ensued between those flying the Jet and the Malta authorities over the plane’s right to use their airstrip

Eventually, the jet had to opt for a turnaround to Britain and they finally landed in Luton. Muaza who was in a sort of coma had to be stretchered off as he was immediately returned to Harmondsworth; the detention centre close to Heathrow

Observers believe the flight cost the Home Office an amount within the region of £95,000- £110,000.

The 47-year-old Nigerian whose tale has won the emotions of many lawyers, politicians, human rights groups and celebrities has been seeking asylum in the UK as his life is no longer safe in his native Nigeria.

One of Muaza’s supporters had this to say last night: “It’s an unbelievable fiasco and we are very worried about his health. He is very weak” .

A Liberal Democrat, Lord Roberts revealed his excitement to the Observer. He was excited about Muaza’s return to the UK but expressed shock at the attempted deportation of a man who was very ill.

“I saw him on Tuesday when a doctor had judged him too sick to fly,” he said. “Goodness knows what state he must be in now the poor man. He needs hospital treatment. We should know the cost of this private jet. We’ve already heard this case has cost some £180,000.

“[The home secretary] Theresa May must consider her role immediately. She has caused immense harm to one individual and spent an extraordinary amount of taxpayers’ money. I hope there will be no question of sending this poor man away again.”

This is arguably the third time The Home Office is employing the use of private jets for deportations. One notable example was the deportation of hate cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan about five months ago.

Staff at the detention centre where Muaza is currently being held are shocked at the medical condition of the Nigerian. The doctors at the detention centre have repeatedly revealed that he is too ill to stay in such a place. Last week, staffe members of the centre were put on alert over an imminent death which was believed to be that of Muazu by close observers.

Lord Roberts of the Liberal Democrats had written a letter to the home secretary, Theresa May. The letter was a plea begging for the forgiveness  of Muaza. The letter was co-signed by a group of cross-party MPs and friends.

On Wednesday when it was revealed that a Virgin Atlantic ticket had been booked for a flight which will fly the Nigerian to Abuja, the Nigerian capital, a member of parliament for the Liberal Democrats, Sarah Teather had called on the airline not to accept Muaza on the aircraft due to his deteriorating health.

Teather who also spoke last night revealed that the treatment of Muaza was appalling.

“To put a well man through this kind of stress and journey would be bad enough, but to do it to a man in such a desperate condition? Well done, Theresa May, you proved your toughness at the expense of your humanity. This should give everyone pause for thought. I cannot see why this was in anyone’s interest.

“That the government is rushing to deport a man 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,” she told Politics.co.uk.

“I find it hard to believe that a man who has refused to eat for over 90 days is playing the system and being willfully manipulative. These are the actions of a desperate man who clearly fears for his safety should he be returned to Nigeria.

The bishop of Ripon and Leeds, John Packer is also against the deportation. He believes Muaza is in clear danger if he returns to Nigeria as he had invoked the wrath of terror group, Boko Haram for refusing to join their ranks.

Those who have signed the letter sent to the Home Office secretary includes the following  actors: Juliet Stevenson, Dame Harriet Walter, Cush Jumbo, Khalid Abdalla. Howard Brenton (Playwright), Stella Duffy (Author), Mark Thomas and Daniel Kitson (comedians) are not left out as they have also followed the examples of various campaign groups in signing the letter.

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