The U.K. government has backtracked and now recognizes Nigeria’s designation of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organization.
Members of the group were barred from applying for asylum in England in a May 2022 policy update.
Per its then-published refugee policy, the UK planned to provide sanctuary to persecuted separatists in April 2020.
Persecuted members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State Biafra (MASSOB) were given refuge during that time.
People “who actively and publicly support IPOB are likely to be arrested and detained, and ill-treatment that is likely to amount to persecution,” the UKVI told its decision makers.
IPOB members and supporters may be eligible for refuge if they can prove that they are being persecuted.
After receiving objections from the Nigerian government, the UK government reportedly removed the policy papers within days of their publication.
In July 2021, a new policy on asylum was seen by reporters. There was no clear mention of IPOB, but there was more emphasis on Nigerians fleeing Boko Haram’s attack.
This is what the UKVI said about IPOB in its policy update for May 2022. It said that IPOB was a terrorist group that should not be allowed to apply for asylum because it was linked to violence in southeast Nigeria.
“IPOB is a terrorist group in Nigeria, and members of the group and its paramilitary wing, the Eastern Security Network, have been accused of human rights violations,” the UKVI said in its policy notes.
It also said that “MASSOB has been banned, but it is not a terrorist group in Nigeria.” It, too, is said to have been in violent clashes with the authorities.
For a person who 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, the UKVI said.
“Persons who commit human rights violations must not be granted asylum,” the UK added.