The government of the United Kingdom has retracted its earlier decision to grant asylum to members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
It would be recalled that in April last year, UK announced its plans to grant asylum to persecuted members of the separatist groups, as part of its refugee policy published at the time.
Meanwhile, the policy, at the time, was for asylum to be granted to “persecuted” members of the IPOB and the MASSOB.
However, in a May 2022 update of its asylum policy published on its official website, the UK government said, “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.
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 the person is excluded from the Refugee Convention, they will also be excluded from a grant of humanitarian protection.”