An exclusive report reaching on Wednesday, indicates that thousands of South-Easterners who are desperately looking for means of travelling out of Nigeria, are hiding under the cover of being members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, to seek for asylum in the United Kingdom, UK.
This exclusive report was gathered at the heels of the statement credited to the President Muhammadu Buhari Federal Government, that the decision of the UK to grant asylum to “persecuted” members of IPOB, is disrespectful of Nigeria as a nation.
Also, the Federal Government through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said that the decision by the UK government amounts to sabotaging the fight against terrorism, and generally undermining Nigeria’s security.
Fielding questions from Newsmen, on Tuesday, in Abuja, Lai Mohammed said that the decision by the UK government is unacceptable to Nigeria.
His words: “Let me say straight away, 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, but it is also inexplicable.”
However, further enquiries made by Page 36 indicates that most of the asylum seekers are not really IPOB members, but persons desperately looking for British passports and a better life outside the country, which has not been working for years under the current administration.
Page 36 gathered that thousands of South-Easterners are set to utilise the recently released UK Visas and Immigration, UKVI, Guidelines to its decision makers on how to consider and grant asylum applications by members of Biafran Secessionist groups.
Asylum is to be granted to “persecuted” members of IPOB, which has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the Nigerian government, and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB.
Recall, that IPOB was formed in 2012, by Nnamdi Kanu, and is believed to be an offshoot of MASSOB, which was founded in 1999, by Ralph Uwazuruike.
Both are campaigning for the secession of mainly the South-East, but also several other ethnic nationalities from Nigeria.
In the just-released ‘Country Policy and Information Note Nigeria: Biafran Secessionist Groups’, the UKVI, a division of the Home Office, directed its decision makers to consider 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”.
According to the Guidelines, the decision makers “must also consider if the (Nigerian) government’s actions are acts of prosecution, not persecution. Those fleeing prosecution or punishment for a criminal offence, are not normally refugees. Prosecution may however, amount to persecution, if it involves victimisation in its application by the authorities”.
The onus is on the Applicants to demonstrate that they will be “at risk of persecution or serious harm” in Nigeria, according to the guidelines.