FG fumes as UK offers asylum to IPOB, MASSOB members
NEWSMAN, Abuja – Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has reacted to the United Kingdom government’s decision to grant asylum to “persecuted” members of Biafran secessionist groups, 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”.
Minister Mohammed however, refered to the UK’s decision as disrespectful to Nigeria as a nation, adding that that the decision amounted to sabotaging the fight against terrorism and generally undermining Nigeria’s security.
Fielding questions at a News Agency of Nigeria flagship interview programme, NANForum, on Tuesday in Abuja, Mohammed said the decision is unacceptable to Nigeria.
“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, it is inexplicable,’’ he said.
The minister said that there had recently been heightened attacks against security agencies in the South-East zone. He said IPOB had been fingered as being behind the attacks 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 before the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement,’’ he said.