Hours after the federal government countered the United Kingdom on its decision to consider granting asylum to members of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), the European country has defended its decision.
The British High Commission in Nigeria disclosed that the UK provides protection to those who need it, in response to the federal government’s criticism of the move.
Recall that the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) had released new guidelines on how to treat asylum applications by members of Biafran secessionist groups.
In the guidelines, asylum is to be granted to “persecuted” members of MASSOB and IPOB, which had been designated as a terrorist organization in Nigeria.
Reacting to the development, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, had kicked against the move which he said amounts to sabotaging Nigeria’s fight against terrorism.
“Against the background of the fact that IPOB is not only proscribed but also designated as a terrorist organization here in Nigeria, the UK’s decision is disrespectful of Nigeria as a nation,” Mohammed had also said.
In its response to the minister’s comments, the British High Commission said it considers asylum to Nigerians seeking one “on their individual merits in accordance with our international obligations.”
“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,” PUNCH quoted the high commission to have said.
“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.”
However, IPOB had said it wants a referendum on self-determination for the south-east of Nigeria not asylum.