The government of the United Kingdom (UK) has labelled the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organization.
The recognition of IPOB as a terrorist group by the UK is contained in an updated policy statement on asylum released through the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) on its website.
The policy updated in May 2022 says it agrees with the government of Nigeria which labelled IPOB and its militant arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) as terrorist organizations.
The UK government also blamed IPOB and ESN led by the arrested Nnamdi Kanu for the increasing violence and human rights violations in the southeast region f the country, ordering its visa officials to exclude members of the group from its asylum programme.
Despite the general exclusion, the statement however pointed out that each case of an asylum application by persons who might be linked with the groups will still be considered on an individual basis.
“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,” UKVI said in the updated policy notes.
It added that “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”.
The UK government through the UKVI office added that “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 policy added that those affected by the fresh directive are also “excluded from a grant of humanitarian protection” but UKVI further urged that “decision-makers must, however, still consider all claims on an individual basis, taking into account each case’s specific facts”.
Naija News recalls that back in April 2022, the UK government announced that it has plans to grant asylum to IPOB members who may be facing persecution from the Nigerian government due to their involvement in the agitation for Biafra.
The position caused an uproar and opposition from the federal government of Nigeria, forcing the policy to be adjusted.
But with the latest update, the UK now agrees with the position of the Nigerian government about IPOB, ESN and their activities.