The United Kingdom’s Home Office, responsible for immigration and security, is considering granting asylum and other protections to members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Details of the plan are contained in a document uploaded to the UK agency’s website and seen by THE WHISTLER on Tuesday.
The document tagged “Country Policy and Information Note Nigeria: Biafran secessionist groups,” said those involved “reported to be several groups aiming for the secession of Biafra.”
The Home Office stated that the said groups were claiming, “fear of persecution and/or serious harm by state actors because the person is a member of or perceived to belong to a Biafran separatist group.”
However, it stated that the office will only apply favourable immigration laws to such persons if their claims were accurate.
“This note provides country of origin information (COI) and analysis of COI for use by Home Office decision makers handling particular types of protection and human rights claims.
“Where a claim is refused, it must be considered for certification under section 94 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 as Nigeria is listed as a designated state in respect of men only,”it added in the document dated March 2021.
But reacting to the report on Tuesday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, told NAN that the development, if true, was a slap on Nigeria.
He said the federal government would meet with the UK over the matter.
“Let me say straightaway that this issue is within the purview of the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and I am sure he will handle it appropriately.
“But as the spokesman for the Federal Government of Nigeria, I will say that if indeed the report that the UK will grant asylum to supposedly persecuted IPOB and MASSOB members is true, then something is wrong somewhere.
“Against the background of the fact that IPOB is not only proscribed but also designated as a terrorist organisation here in Nigeria, the UK’s decision is disrespectful of Nigeria as a nation.
“The decision amounts to sabotaging the fight against terrorism and generally undermining Nigeria’s security. It is not only unconscionable, it is inexplicable,’’ he said.