There were indications, Friday, that the United Kingdom (UK) Government may have suspended its asylum policy as it concerns the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other Biafra splinter groups.
This followed an e-mailed statement signed by Senior Communications Officer, Newsdesk, at the Home Office, Hannah Dawson, in which the UK Home Office said the policy was being reviewed and would be uploaded once ready.
In the emailed statement, the British Government, however, did not give a timeframe as to when the updated policy would be uploaded to their website.
The email read: “Our country policy and information notes are published on the gov.uk website. They are kept under review and updated periodically.
“We publish our notes as our decisions on protection claims can be appealed to the public immigration courts, so it is clearer and fairer to all involved (applicants, their lawyers, judges, stakeholders, such as the UNHCR) to know what our position and evidence base is.
“Our note on Biafra separatists has been taken down for review; an update is expected shortly.” It would be recalled the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) recently released new guidelines to its decision makers on how to consider and grant asylum applications by members of Biafran secessionist groups.
In the guidelines, asylum was to be granted to “persecuted” members IPOB, a group that the Nigerian government had designated as a terrorist organisation.
According to the guidelines, asylum was also to be granted to the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
Although the offer was rejected by IPOB and MASSOB, it was, however, condemned by the Federal Government, saying it was disrespectful of Nigeria as a nation.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated this while fielding questions at a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) flagship interview programme in Abuja, said the decision was unacceptable to Nigeria and amounted to sabotaging the fight against terrorism and generally undermining Nigeria’s security.
He stated: “Let me say straight away that this issue is within the purview of the 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.”
Mohammed stressed that there had recently been heightened attacks against security agencies in the Southeast, which alleged, are linked to IPOB, in spite of its denials.
“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 (Irish Republican Army) before the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement,” he added.
In reaction to the Nigerian Government’s compliant, the British High Commission had explained that all asylum and human rights claims from Nigerians were carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with the UK 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.
“Our country policy and information notes are published on the gov.uk website and 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.”
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