The United Kingdom has defended its decision to consider granting asylum to members of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
According to PUNCH, the British high commission in Nigeria said the UK provides protection to those who need it, in response to the federal government’s criticism of the move.
TheCable had published an exclusive report that the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) had released new guidelines on how to treat asylum applications by members of Biafran secessionist groups.
In the guidelines, asylum is to be granted to “persecuted” members of MASSOB and IPOB, which had been designated as a terrorist organisation in Nigeria.
But Lai Mohammed, minister of information, had kicked against the move which he said amounts to sabotaging Nigeria’s fight against terrorism.
“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 had also said.
In its response to the minister’s comments, the British High Commission said it considers asylum to Nigerians seeking one “on their individual merits in accordance with our international obligations.”
“The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it, in accordance with our international obligations under the Refugee Convention and European Convention on Human Rights,” PUNCH quoted the high commission to have said.
“Our country policy and information notes are published on the gov.uk website. They are kept under constant review and updated periodically – an update to the Biafra separatist note is expected shortly.
“We publish them since our decisions can be appealed in the immigration courts, which are public, so it is clearer and fairer for all involved (applicants, their lawyers, judges, stakeholders such as the UNHCR) to know what our position and evidence base is.”
Meanwhile, IPOB had said it wants a referendum on self-determination for the Biafran area of Nigeria not asylum.
The Federal Government says the reported decision of the United Kingdom to grant asylum to “persecuted” members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is disrespectful of Nigeria as a nation.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also said that the decision amounted to sabotaging the fight against terrorism and generally undermining Nigeria’s security. Fielding questions from Newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja, Mohammed said the decision is unacceptable to Nigeria. “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. “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, but it is also inexplicable,’’ he said. The minister said that there had recently been heightened attacks against security agencies in the South East Zone. He said IPOB had been fingered as being behind the attacks in spite of its denials. “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. NAN reports that the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) had released new guidelines to its decision-makers on how to consider and grant asylum applications by members of Biafran secessionist groups. In the guidelines, asylum is to be granted to “persecuted” members IPOB, a group that Nigeria had designated as a terrorist organisation.
Also in the guidelines, asylum is to be granted to the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra . (PM News)
The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has released new guidelines to its decision makers on how to consider and grant asylum applications by members of Biafran secessionist groups, TheCable can report.
Asylum is to be granted to “persecuted” members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the Nigerian government, and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
IPOB was formed in 2012 by Nnamdi Kanu and is believed to be an offshoot of MASSOB, which was founded in 1999 by Ralph Uwazuruike.
Both are campaigning for the secession of mainly the south-east but also several other ethnic nationalities from Nigeria.
In the just-released ‘Country Policy and Information Note Nigeria: Biafran secessionist groups’ seen by TheCable, the UKVI, a division of the Home Office, directed its decision makers to consider if a person “who actively and openly supports IPOB is likely to be at risk of arrest and detention, and ill-treatment which is likely to amount to persecution”.
According to the guidelines, the decision makers “must also consider if the [Nigerian] government’s actions are acts of prosecution, not persecution. Those fleeing prosecution or punishment for a criminal offence are not normally refugees. Prosecution may, however, amount to persecution if it involves victimisation in its application by the authorities”.
An example of persecution, the UKVI said, is “if it is the vehicle or excuse for or if only certain groups are prosecuted for a particular offence and the consequences of that discrimination are sufficiently severe. Punishment which is cruel, inhuman or degrading (including punishment which is out of all proportion to the offence committed) may also amount to persecution”.
They are also to “consider each case on its facts to determine if the person is likely to be of interest to the [Nigerian] government and whether this is for the legitimate grounds of prosecution which is proportionate and non-discriminatory”.
BURDEN OF PROOF
The onus is on the applicants to demonstrate that they will be “at risk of persecution or serious harm” in Nigeria, according to the guidelines.
In particular, the decision makers are to consider each case on its facts, taking into account: profile, size, and organisation of the group/organisation to which the person belongs and its activities whether a person in the UK would wish to continue their activism if returned to Nigeria (if not, why not) whether the group/organisation has a presence in Nigeria as well as outside of the country and any evidence that it is being monitored by the government person’s profile and political activities (including those online) and relevant documentary or other evidence profile and activities of family members past treatment. The UK acknowledges that the Nigerian government has a responsibility to maintain law and order, “to prevent and protect the public against acts of violence”.
It said where supporters or members of MASSOB or IPOB “have incited or used violence to disrupt public order, the government may have legitimate grounds to arrest and prosecute those people”.
“However, where the government has arrested and detained persons who, for example, peacefully participate in demonstrations and has then charged them with treason or the person is subjected to periods of detention in degrading or inhuman conditions, such treatment is unlikely to be fair or proportionate, and is likely to amount to persecution,” the guidelines noted.
The UK defines ‘Biafra’ as an area “in the south-east of Nigeria that comprises the states of Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra. The area is inhabited principally by Igbo (Ibo) people who are one of the country’s 3 largest ethnic groups”.
EVIDENCE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS APPLICATIONS
The UK, which is a signatory to several human rights and refugee conventions, believes Biafran secessionist agitations are covered by one or more of the following policies:
A person is reasonably likely to face a real risk of persecution or serious harm The general humanitarian situation is so severe as to breach Article 15(b) of European Council Directive 2004/83/EC (the Qualification Directive)/Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights as transposed in paragraph 339C and 339CA(iii) of the Immigration Rules The security situation presents a real risk to a civilian’s life or person such that it would breach Article 15(c) of the Qualification Directive as transposed in paragraph 339C and 339CA(iv) of the Immigration Rules A person is able to obtain protection from the state (or quasi state bodies) A person is reasonably able to relocate within a country or territory A claim is likely to justify granting asylum, humanitarian protection or other form of leave, and If a claim is refused, it is likely or unlikely to be certifiable as ‘clearly unfounded’ under section 94 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. However, decision makers are directly to still consider all claims on an individual basis, taking into account each case’s specific facts.
TheCable has contacted the Nigerian government for comment.
DJ Switch is seeking asylum in Canada following her testimony on the Lekki Toll Gate massacre.
A report by News Wire stated that DJ Switch has appeared before the Sub-committee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development of the Canadian Parliament, where she spoke about her ordeal during and after the #EndSARS protests.
A post by Dr. Kemi Olunloyo on social media also confirms that DJ Switch is already in asylum hearings in Canada.
She revealed in her statement that the soldiers insisted they were working under strict instructions.
See the screenshot;
Saharareporters reports that she told the Canadian parliament that she counted not less than seven persons shot, adding that one of the soldiers threatened to shoot her.
She said this about the October 20 incident:
“On October 20, 2020, we had spirited Nigerians there united with one goal against police brutality against bad governance. What started out as a protest against police brutality with the unit called SARS, unfortunately, degenerated into something I still find hard to reconcile within my heart.
We got information that the government wants to see me and six other people and I remember saying to them that we have no leader and if the government wanted to speak with us, he should kindly come to the toll gate and address Nigerians because we have been out for eleven days.
As we didn’t know where the gunshots were coming from and what they are about and then the lights went off.
I remembered the military came in first, they stopped shooting at some point and I walked up to one of them and I asked why he was shooting at us and he said he had express order from above, and I was coming too close to him and if I come too close, it would be considered an attack on him and he would have to shoot.
It didn’t take another ten minutes, the shooting started again. I remember seeing seven people that have been shot down and we were telling people on my live Instagram to help us call an ambulance.”
“I have been on the move because they have been after my life. The first threat came in, I thought it was a joke, I sincerely thought it was a joke. Just as I was leaving, I got a phone call that I should leave the vicinity because there are military men at the hospital.
I had to abandon my home, I moved from people’s home, and then just to get out of Nigeria. I am still travelling, and I am not done with my trip.”
Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, has been arrested by the Metropolitan Police after being expelled from the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he has been hiding as a fugitive for seven years.
He is currently being held at a central London police station, before being presented before Westminster Magistrates’ Court “as soon as is possible”.
Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno said Assange had been “discourteous and aggressive” during his stay and added that he had broken multiple conditions of his asylum.
He said: “He particularly violated the norm of not intervening in the internal affairs of other states.
The most recent incident occurred in January 2019, when WikiLeaks leaked Vatican documents. Key members of that organisation visited Mr Assange before and after such illegal acts.”
He also claimed Assange had installed “distortion equipment” in the embassy, and that he had “mistreated guards”.
The 47-year-old Wikileaks founder was wanted by the UK police for breaching his bail conditions, after a saga that began in November 2010, when Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for Assange, after authorities in the country questioned him over allegations of sexual assault and rape, which he denied.
He claimed he would be extradited from Sweden to the US because of his role in publishing hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables.
The hacker surrendered to British police in 2012 and was released on bail within 10 days, but breached his bail conditions after an unsuccessful appeal against extradition to Sweden. He was then granted asylum by Ecuador and allowed to remain in the embassy. (Instablog)
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