The United Kingdom Government has the UK government says it decided to bar members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) from seeking asylum in its country as a result of recent activities reported in Nigeria.
The UK government also acknowledged that the Nigerian authorities have since proscribed IPOB as a terrorist group by the Federal Government and that members of the group and its paramilitary wing – the Eastern Security Network – have reportedly committed human rights violations.
The UK, therefore, said that persons who commit human rights violations must not be granted asylum.
The UK authorities had in April 2021, said that it was planning to grant asylum to the persecuted members of the separatist group as part of its refugee policy published at the time.
The UK authorities in an updated asylum policy in May 2022 referred to IPOB as a terrorist organisation to be excluded from its asylum programme over alleged links to violence in the south-east.
The statement reads, “IPOB is proscribed as a terrorist group by the Nigerian government, and members of the group and its paramilitary wing – the Eastern Security Network (created in December 2020) – have reportedly committed human rights violations in Nigeria.
“MASSOB has been banned but is not a proscribed terrorist group in Nigeria. It too has reportedly been involved in violent clashes with the authorities.
“If a person has been involved with IPOB (and/or an affiliated group), MASSOB or any other ‘Biafran’ group that incites or uses violence to achieve its aims, decision-makers must consider whether one (or more) of the exclusion clauses under the Refugee Convention is applicable. Persons who commit human rights violations must not be granted asylum.”
The UK, which stated that any person excluded from the Refugee Convention would also be excluded from a grant of humanitarian protection, however, advised decision-makers to still consider all claims on an individual basis, taking into account each case’s specific facts.
In the political context, the UK described Biafra as a loosely defined area in Nigeria’s south-east that roughly corresponds to Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Anambra States.