The latest development regarding the case of Isa Muazu, the failed asylum seeker from Nigeria on hunger strike, is that the British Government has a private jet on standby to fly him back to Nigeria.
His removal to Nigeria was initially slated for Wednesday via a Virgin Atlantic flight but it has now been fixed for Friday.
According to the Independent, His new flight number EDC684 is registered with Air Scotland Charter Ltd, an aviation firm whose fleet includes Alan Sugar’s private plane.
The Independent reports further that it is not known how much the flight will cost, but a similar aircraft used to deport radical preacher Abu Qatada to Jordan was estimated to cost the Home Office more than £50,000 to hire.
His lawyers are still making frantic efforts to prevent his removal. They argue that their client who has been on a hunger strike for over a hundred days is to unwell to fly.
Phil Miller, a researcher at Corporate Watch, which discovered the jet booking, said: “The Home Office seem determined to deport Isa Muazu whatever the cost to his life and the public purse, even splashing out on a private jet just to bundle him out of the country.”
Isa Muazu came to the UK in 2007 but overstayed his visa before applying for asylum on the grounds that his life was under threat from members of the Boko Haram religious sect who wanted him to become a member.
His asylum application was rejected and has been in detention ever since, refusing to eat or consent to any medical treatment unless he is released on bail.
Describing himself as looking like “a skeleton”, Mr Muazu now weighs just 53 kilos, despite being 5 foot 11 tall.
A letter signed by leading actors, artists and campaigners was delivered to Home Secretary Theresa May on Thursday demanding she show clemency on his case. The 100 signatories included Juliet Stevenson, Dame Harriet Walter and author Stella Duffy.
The letter, which was also signed by human rights organisations including Amnesty and Liberty, says: “Despite compelling medical evidence and in the context of mounting political pressure from cross party parliamentarians, the decision to continue Isa’s detention and pursue Isa’s deportation contradicts medical advice and shows no regard for the value of his life. We would argue that this goes well beyond a ‘hostile environment’ and has far reaching consequences for society as a whole.”
Campaigners held a candlelit vigil outside the Home Office to express concern about his case and the department’s apparent hardening in its stance against asylum-seekers.