The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated that the Federal Government might summon the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, over the asylum offer.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, Mohammed said that the Federal Government on Tuesday is not happy over a plan by the United Kingdom to offer asylum to “persecuted” members of the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra.
The UK Visas and Immigration issued new guidelines to its decision makers on how to consider and grant asylum applications of members of Biafran secessionist groups in Nigeria.
In the guidelines published on assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government, it stated that the asylum would be granted to “persecuted” members of IPOB and MASSOB.
The Minister said the plan is disrespectful to Nigeria as a nation and unacceptable.
The source stated, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will definitely take up the asylum offer to IPOB with the British High Commission. The government may summon the High Commissioner and demand an explanation for their decision which is totally inappropriate and a form of support for the proscribed group.’’
Mr Mohammed said: “Let me say straightaway 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 recalled that there had been heightened attacks against security agencies in the South East Zone.
He said IPOB had been linked to the attacks in spite of its denials.
Mohammed stated, “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.