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NIGERIA’S Minister of Information Lai Mohammed has said that reports on the United Kingdom granting asylum to persecuted secessionist groups -Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) – is disrespectful to Nigeria.
Mohammed said this on Tuesday in a media chat with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
He said that although the situation was within the purview of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, he felt, as a spokesperson of the Federal Government, that there was something wrong with that.
“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,” Mohammed said.
He noted that the decision also amounted to sabotaging the fight against terrorism and generally undermining Nigeria’s security.
The minister said that there had recently been heightened attacks against security agencies in the South-East zone, noting that IPOB had been fingered as being behind the attacks in spite of its denials.
The Nigeria government had, in September 2017, proscribed the secessionist group.
According to the report, the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has released a new guideline to its officers on how to grant asylum to members of Biafran secessionist groups.
In the guideline, the UK said its officers should consider anyone who actively and openly supported IPOB and was likely to be at risk of arrest, detention, and ill-treatment which was likely to amount to persecution.
IPOB is agitating for the secession of South Eastern States from Nigeria even though the governors of the states are not in support of that.
There have also been violent clashes between the IPOB and Nigerian Army which have led to the death of civilians and destruction of properties in the South-East.