The United Kingdom (UK) reportedly has decided to “consider and grant” asylum applications of members of proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and MASSOB. Guidelines released recently by the UK Visas and Immigration Department said asylum should be granted to “persecuted” members of IPOB and loyalists of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
Reacting to that report, the federal government Tuesday said it amounted to sabotaging the global fight against terrorism. In an interview he granted to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the UK position was unacceptable to Nigeria. He said, “Let me say straight away 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.”
He said IPOB had been fingered as being behind recent attacks on police facilities in the Southeast. “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.
The minister is right. If the UK proceeds with that decision it will be breaching international law which forbids interference in another nation’s internal affairs. It will also be hobnobbing with groups Nigeria has proscribed as terrorist organizations. Furthermore, we wonder what sense is there in sacrificing the UK’s huge economic investment in the Nigerian economy on the altar of support for sectarianism. Has the UK not learnt from its disastrous romance with Biafra in the late 1960s? Going down that same road will be very costly. Don’t do it.