The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has attacked the United Kingdom over plans to grant asylum to persecuted members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) had 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 is to be granted to “persecuted” members IPOB, a group that Nigeria had designated as a terrorist organisation.
Also in the guidelines, asylum is to be granted to the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
Reacting while fielding questions at a flagship interview programme, NANForum, on Tuesday in Abuja, Lai Mohammed said the decision is unacceptable to Nigeria.
Mohammed said that the decision is disrespectful of Nigeria as a nation, adding that the UK is sabotaging the fight against terrorism and generally undermining Nigeria’s security.
“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.
KanyiDaily recalls that last year, IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu had written a petition to the UK and the United States (US) over the arrest of 70 pro-Biafrans by police in Imo State.