Ifa Muaza, a refugee from Nigeria, has been on hunger strike for over 80 days after his request for asylum was rejected by the Home Office.
Muaza is being held at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre, near Heathrow. His lawyer argues that keeping him in detention amounts to a death sentence, and staff at the centre have been warned to expect a detainee to die.
Muaza says he came to Britain after being threatened by the Islamist militia, Boko Haram, in Nigeria. He says that he was pressured to join the jihadist organisation, and that if he refused, he would be killed. Boko Haram have an extensive record of burning schools and churches, and murdering civilians. They were recently categorised as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department.
Muaza originally came to the UK on a valid visa, but remained in the country after its expiry because he was too scared to return home. He applied for asylum, but was immediately detained, and his request rejected. He later began his hunger strike, saying he would be killed if he returned to Nigeria. It is feared he will soon die.
The Home Office’s refusal to release Muaza, even if that means his death, is part of a hardening of government policy against refugees.