The government of the United Kingdom has made a U-turn on its treatment of members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), recognising Nigeria’s classification of the group as a terrorist organisation.
In a May 2022 update of its asylum policy, seen by The Press, the UK government excluded members of the group from seeking refuge in England.
In its May 2022 policy update seen by newsmen, UKVI referred to IPOB as a terrorist organisation to be excluded from its asylum programme over alleged links to violence in the south-east.
“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 its 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”.
UKVI went on to tell its decision makers 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 UK added.
The policy brief noted that anyone excluded in this manner is also “excluded from a grant of humanitarian protection”.
UKVI also advised that “decision makers must, however, still consider all claims on an individual basis, taking into account each case’s specific facts”.