”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..” The new UK policy states.
The government of the United Kingdom has said it will not grant asylum to members of the Biafran Separatist groups, The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) citing ”proscription as a terrorist group by the Nigerian state” and the banned Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), according to a new release of country policies on its official website.
The UK had earlier in April, 2021, announced that it would grant asylum to members of the groups but retracted it in its new policy decisions.
The new UK policy on Biafra cited human rights abuses by the Eastern Security Network, ESN, a militia wing of IPOB, its proscription by the Nigerian government as basis for its new decision. On MASSOB, it stated 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.”
On provision of asylum to members of the groups, the policy 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.”
MASSOB is another active Biafra separatist group founded by Ralph Uwazuruike in 1999.
The Nigerian government had accused IPOB of carrying out human rights abuses in the East of Nigeria. The group was also recently accused of killing and beheading an army couple on their way for marital rites in Imo state. The couple were decapitated and a video of the killings shared on Whatsapp.
Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB has been in detention undergoing trial by the Nigerian state on charges bothering on treason, terrorism, murder and other activities of the group. Kanu’s arrest is often cited as reason for its violence by the group.
Kanu jumped bail in 2017, escaping to the UK. He was re-arrested in Kenya in 2021 and sneaked into Nigeria before he was detained and put on trial again.
In 2021, IPOB declared a sit-at-home order in the east of Nigeria, as a civil action to protest the detention and trial of its leader, Kanu. The civil disobedience order soon led to violent attacks and killings of those who defaulted the order. The violence soon spread across the east and forcing people to obey the order.
The new UK policy statement also clarified that the UK will consider the activities of an applicant relative to IPOB or MASSOB on personal basis.
”Decision makers must, however, still consider all claims on an individual basis, taking into account each case’s specific facts.” the policy states.
”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 statement clarified.