BY Ebunoluwa Olafusi
The federal government says the plan of the UK to grant asylum to “persecuted” members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) undermines Nigeria’s security.
TheCable had published an exclusive report 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 the proscribed IPOB and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
Commenting on the development at a forum organised by NAN on Tuesday, Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said the decision amounts to sabotaging the fight against terrorism.
Mohammed said the decision is unacceptable and disrespectful to Nigeria.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
The minister said IPOB has been alleged to be behind the recent attacks in the south-east — “in spite of its denials”.