Isa Muazu’s case hit the media in 2013 when, after he went on hunger-strike in detention for over 90 days. Isa’s protest brought attention to the hard-line policies of the Home Office, and exposed the human consequences of the hostile environment policy which had been announced by Theresa May, the then Home Secretary, that same year. Isa had been detained after the UK refused his request for protection from Boko Haram [the jihadist militant group].
Despite a severe deterioration in his health as a result of his hunger-strike, the Home Office insisted on removing Isa to Nigeria by private yet, costing an estimated £180,000. The first plane was turned back by Nigerian authorities, raising hopes that Isa’s removal could be prevented. Sadly, after unsuccessful litigation against his detention on the basis of his health as a hunger-striker and against his removal to Nigeria on the basis of his asylum claim, he was eventually returned to Nigeria a month later. After he was forcibly returned, Isa had to flee to Algeria as a result of the continued threats from Boko Haram, where he remains and from where he sent us this message for Voices of Action via whatsapp:
From Isa via Whatsapp:
I will try my utmost possible best to give a contribution in relation to my circumstances and how I was forcibly returned to Nigeria where my life is at serious risk. I had to flee threats from Boko Haram militant insurgents and their atrocities, and am at this present moment in Algeria, stranded and struggling with difficulties and homelessness.
I think the best thing for me is to take ample time to write out what happened to me on whatsapp, so that my voice is heard clearly and loud, how I was brutally treated by the Home Office and the GEO security guard at Harmondsworth [at the time of Isa’s detention, Harmondsworth detention centre near Heathrow Airport was run by the private security firm GEO].
From Boko Haram…
I claimed asylum in the UK because I fear Boko Haram. They asked me to join, but I refused. I don’t agree with their policies of Hatred. I know some of them because I went to school with them, and I am afraid they will kill me. They have already killed about 30 of my friends, and some of my family. But the Home Office refused my asylum, and put me in detention in Harmondsworth in July 2013.
In detention I was so frustrated, I was suffering from mental and physical illness. As a matter of fact I will never ever wishes my worst enemy been in UK detention centre. What I have observed as an asylum-seeker in Harmondsworth detention centre, especially when you are from Africa, you have no credibility, especially if your case is on the fast track. You are not treated as a human being no matter how serious or imminent the threat you are facing. Because of the pain, anger and being deprived of my right, I tried to commit suicide twice.
I wanted to protest about how the Home Office handled my asylum claim. In August I went on hunger-strike, for over 90 days. My health got very bad. I had hepatitis B, kidney problems and stomach ulcers, I couldn’t stand or even see. I was so ill the government gave me an end of life plan. Then they tried to take me to Colnbrook detention centre, by the officers, who collaborate with the Home Office to look after us in an amicable manner, unfortunately it wasn’t the case. They dragged me from my bed like an animal on the surface of the floor, and put me in handcuffs. I was unlawfully and viciously treated. But the manager at Colnbrook refused to accept me so they then took me back to Harmondsworth care unit!
But even then, they wanted to send me back to Nigeria. Theresa May made my life a living Hell. I am not a bad person or destructive, I was in the UK to do good and be nice to everyone, those are my principles. I was in the UK to be safe from a serious threat. Because of my protest, I had so many people supporting me who knew about my case including Frankie Boyle and Billy Bragg. I had support from Lord Roberts [of Llandudno] and there was also Sky News, BBC, Detention Action, The Unity Centre in Glasgow and people from the British community who sent me post cards to sympathise with me over the assault and in solidarity with me. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough.
Removal back to Nigeria
Then In November they sent me to Nigeria on my own on a private charter flight, even though I couldn’t see or stand I was so weak. I am 5 ft 11 inches tall, but I weighed about 50 kg. I had lost 35% of my body-weight. The doctors said I wasn’t fit to fly, that it was dangerous. But they sent me anyway. Mark Harper the Immigration minister said that if they didn’t send me other people would follow me in hunger-striking. In fact the Nigerian authorities refused to give them the right to land, so we had to go back to Malta and then to the UK where we arrived at midnight and I was still on hunger-strike. I was told it cost Theresa May £180,000 to pay for that plane just with me on it, this is a huge amount of tax-payers funds!
A month later, in December, they did send me back to Nigeria. I was absolutely sad and shocked. My life is in danger in Nigeria, and I very narrowly escaped an attack, so I escaped to Algeria. After my life has been hurt and exposed, and put in danger in Nigeria by the Home Office I have been living in a hell and fear with nervousness. There is still a massive threat from Boko Haram, it is intense and escalating.
Homeless in Algeria
Now in Algeria I am homeless, with sleepless nights, but I am still determined to resist the temptation and all the obstacles in this precarious journey and beyond. Here, you eat today and maybe not tomorrow, and my entire body skin is fragile to the water here – it is salty – and I have haemorrhoids and problems with my kidney – it is affecting my sight!
The UK government can behave better
But still I strongly believe some day justice must prevail which is the main objective – the whole world needs to know. Certainly I think the UK Government can behave better. It must treat people fairly and must abide by the rules, you deserve to be be treated with fairness regardless of your color or ethnic group, or religion. I’m writing for this blog because people need to listen and hear our voices of the less privileged. Obviously people have a right and privilege for their voices to be heard loud and clear and also have a right to challenge any government that is treating others unjustly, especially those that have been dehumanised by the UK immigration system and Home Office policies, which have undermined the British court and is breaking the judiciary.
No Walls, No Boundaries, No Barriers of Injustice to Hide.