The Federal Government has reacted to the United Kingdom government’s decision to grant asylum to persecuted members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) had released new guidelines on how to treat asylum applications by members of Biafran secessionist groups.
The guideline centers on if a person “who actively and openly supports IPOB is likely to be at risk of arrest and detention, and ill-treatment which is likely to amount to persecution.”
Reacting to the development at a forum organised by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Tuesday, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, described the decision as “disrespectful” to the Nigerian Government.
Mohammed described IPOB as a terrorist organisation, adding that the decision by the UK government “sabotages the fight against terrorism and generally undermining Nigeria’s security.”
“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.
“For the UK to choose this time to give succour to IPOB beggars belief and calls to question the UK’s real intention.
“If we could go down the memory lane, what the UK has done is like Nigeria offering asylum to members of the IRA before the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement,” he said.
The minister also claimed that IPOB is alleged to be behind the recent attacks against security operatives in the South-east, even though the secessionist group has repeatedly denied being responsible.