The United Kingdom has responded to criticism by the Federal Government over its asylum offer to “persecuted” members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
VANTAGE NEWS reported that the UK Visas and Immigration issued new guidelines on how to consider and grant asylum applications of members of Biafran secessionist groups in Nigeria.
In a 56-page document released in March, the UKVI asked decision makers to consider granting asylum to persons who actively and openly support IPOB that are likely to be at risk of arrest, detention and ill-treatment.
In a swift response, the FG through the minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, last Tuesday, blasted the Uk for offering asylum to IPOB and MASSOB, describing the move as “disrespectful.”
Mohammed added, “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.”
In response to the allegations by the Federal Government, the British High Commission through an Email told The Punch that the “UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it, in accordance with our international obligations under the Refugee Convention and European Convention on Human Rights.”
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“Our country policy and information notes are published on the gov.uk website. They are kept under constant review and updated periodically – an update to the Biafra separatist note is expected shortly. We publish them since our decisions can be appealed in the immigration courts, which are public, so it is clearer and fairer for all involved (applicants, their lawyers, judges, stakeholders such as the UNHCR) to know what our position and evidence base is,” the British High Commission added.
It further stated that, “All asylum and human rights claims from Nigerian nationals are carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with our international obligations.”