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.
“@officialEFCC putting my name on watch list after notification of my coming is petty. I’m not among those who are afraid to face tomorrow. Nobody is God.”
• Customs orders governor’s arrest at border
• ‘Where were you when Adeosun left Nigeria?’
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has asked the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to place outgoing Ekiti State governor Ayodele Fayose on its watch list.
Fayose, whose tenure ends on October 16, is being investigated by the EFCC for alleged abuse of office, money laundering, among other offences.
In a letter, dated September 12, addressed to the Comptroller General of Customs Service, Hameed Ali, the EFCC said Fayose may be planning to flee the country.
“There is a reasonable suspicion suggesting that he (Fayose) may likely leave the country either through the land borders, airports or seaports in order to evade investigation. Hence, you are kindly requested to watch list him and arrest him,” the EFCC, in a letter personally signed by Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman said.
In its response, the NCS instructed all zonal coordinators, area commanders and comptrollers to monitor Fayose, through the provided contact details if sighted, the NCS stated in its letter of September 14.
Reacting to the development through his personal Twitter handle, Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, noted that to put his name on the watch list after he had formally written to the anti-graft agency to inform it of his willingness to report to it next month, is an indication that the EFCC was playing politics with the matter.
“@officialEFCC putting my name on watch list after notification of my coming is not only political but petty. I’m not among those who are afraid to face tomorrow. Nobody is God. They should expect me on October 16, 2018. I will remain in PDP not minding their intimidation,” Fayose declared.
Also reacting, Fayose’s Special Adviser on Communication and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said: “That would be irresponsible of the EFCC and of the APC-led Federal Government. This is the same APC-led Federal Government that allowed Kemi Adeosun who forged her NYSC certificate to resign and leave the country immediately, but it is now placing alert on customs against Fayose. What happened to the alert that should have been placed on Kemi Adeosun?
“Governor Fayose has written to the EFCC that he would appear at their office by 1pm on October 16. They should wait for him, he is not afraid and not a coward like them who are afraid of just anything. And we want to say that they should not waste their time and also not use the hushed up alert to customs to steal from the Federal Government coffers. Their case is like that of cow thieves running after fowl thieves.
“Governor Fayose is not afraid of any of them; he will appear as promised on October 16. They wrote a letter to the governor that he should appear on September 20 but by section 308 of the constitution, Governor Fayose still enjoys immunity against criminal prosecution until October 16, and when that garment of immunity is removed, Governor Fayose will present himself as promised on October 16 at 1pm,”the governor’s aide said.
Daily Sun recalls that Fayose’s party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lost the July 2018 governorship election in Ekiti State, to the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Kayode Fayemi. He defeated PDP’s candidate and outgoing deputy governor, Olusola Kolapo, to win the race.
Barely 24 hours after the election was won and lost, the EFCC, had in a tweet noted that with Fayose’s tenure ending in less than three months, he should be preparing to visit the Commission.
The Commission intimated that investigation into Fayose’s alleged N1.3 billion poultry project during his first term would be reopened so as to continue the prosecution.
“The parri (party) is over; the cloak of immunity torn apart and the staff broken. Ekiti Integrated Poultry Project/Biological concepts Limited N1.3bn fraud case file dusted off the shelves. See you soon,” the EFCC had tweeted.
Since 2007, Fayose has been having a running battle with the anti-graft agency. A new twist was however introduced to it in 2016, following the discovery that the governor, had allegedly benefitted from the alleged arms deal scandal, amounting to N1.3bn, which he was alleged to have received from the then minister of state for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro to prosecute his election in 2014. Obanikoro has since joined the APC. (The Sun)
A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, has ordered the Department of State Security (DSS) to allow detained Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe to have access to his lawyer.
Justice Binta Nyako made the order following an oral application by Abaribe’s counsel, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN) seeking the intervention of the court to the plight of his client.
The lawyer drew the attention of the court to the fact that his client who was arrested and detained by the DSS since Friday last week was still being held incommunicado.
Meanwhile, supporters of the detained senator representing Abia South at the Senate, protested at the premises of the Federal High Court demanding for his unconditional release.
Although the court said it was not going to entertain the matter since the facts of his arrest and detention are not before it, however, said it was the constitutional right of anybody who is detained to have access to a lawyer of his or her choice.
Abaribe who had stood surety for the ‘missing’ leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu was, on Tuesday, brought to court by operatives of the DSS in relations to the legal issues arising from Kanu’s bail.
But in a dramatic twist, one of the surety to Nnamdi Kanu, Tochukwu Uchendu, has filed a motion for an order of the court directing the police to arrest and produce Nnamdi Kanu to court. (The Sun)
Igbo pressure group Voice from the East (VEAST) has called on the Federal Government to release Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, describing his arrest as intimidation and undemocratic.
Senator Abaribe was arrested last Friday by operatives of Directorate of State Security (DSS) on his alleged support for Biafran separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
According to the group that embarked on a peaceful protest in Enugu over the Senator’s arrest, Abaribe was not responsible for the disappearance of the IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu and should not be wasted or killed in detention.
They carried placards that read: “Release Abaribe”, “Democracy destruction day by Buhari on 31st December 1983”; “Free Abaribe”, “Islam is the Nigeria problem”, “Free Abaribe, kill Fulani herdsmen”, “Free Abaribe, DSS of satanic services”.
While addressing newsmen, the convener, Comrade Kindness Jonah, said that “we are demonstrating in the streets of Enugu to tell Nigeria Government to release Sen. Abaribe immediately and unconditionally.”
Jonah warned that his group is ready to ground the government should they decline to release him.
“If they fail to heed the call, we’ll do everything to clamp down on this nation. This is because Buhari is insensitive to life. We can’t allow him to kill Abaribe,” he fumed, claiming “the way he killed Nnamdi Kanu.”
He said that Abaribe was about to bring Kanu to court before the military struck and, therefore, Abaribe should not be molested.
Alleging that “the military went to Nnamdi Kanu’s house, brought him out and killed him before Abaribe would bring him to court,” Jonah declared that “Abaribe is not responsible for the killing of Nnamdi Kanu by the military. He should be released immediately.”
Jonah posited that they used the demonstration also to show angst against the killing of 150 people in Plateau State by Fulani herdsmen, accusing President Buhari of being the sponsor of Boko Haram as well as the Fulani herdsmen.
“We use this avenue to clearly say that Buhari is the sponsor of both Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria and let every Nigerian know this assuredly,” he alleged. (The Sun)
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), on Wednesday alleged that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is persecuting people of the South East.
IPOB made the allegation in reaction to the arrest of its members from the Shalom Synagogue Church of Israel in Aba, Abia State.
The statement reads, “It is on record that IPOB activities are firmly anchored on the finest Judeo-Christian traditions, which has made Biafrans and IPOB in particular the target of these state sponsored indiscriminate and arbitrary arrests of innocent civilians by agents of Nigerian government in pursuit of an Islamist agenda. There has been repeated raids of synagogues and places of worship in Aba and Igweocha (Port Harcourt) respectively.
The pro-Biafra group stated that it was unfortunate that the Nigerian government through the instrumentality of the police and the Department of State Services, DSS, have reduced themselves to playing the role of religious police.
“Security operatives whose constitutional role is to protect the lives and property of citizens, have now turned to instruments of oppression against innocent civilian populations.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Emma Powerful, the group stressed that the police and DSS have effectively constituted themselves into instruments with which enemies of Israel in the Nigerian government are now using to suppress those practicing Judaism.
“Arresting members of Shalom Christian Church because they are connected to the Jews in Israel is religious discrimination of the worst kind. Every religion has a root and in as much as nobody can deny that Saudi Arabia is the root of Islam, nobody can deny that Israel is the foundation of both Judaism and later Christianity.
Discrimination based of religious affiliation to Israel is misplaced and a crime against the very principles of freedom of worship and association.
“Since President Trump announced US recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel, the wave of arbitrary arrests and persecution of Biafrans that practice Judaism in Aba and Igweocha (Port Harcourt) have dramatically increased.
“We want to bring it to the notice of the entire world what IPOB in particular and Biafrans are suffering in general at the hands of this Buhari administration. The world must therefore prevail upon Nigeria to desist from this blatant religious persecution and release those in their custody.
“Nigerian Government, by towing this path, is setting a very ugly and dangerous precedent. Those arrested for their faith must be released immediately including all those illegally detained for expressing their legitimately held views that they are better off in Biafra than Nigeria.
“Members of the Shalom Synagogue of Israel in Aba did not commit any crime known to law. They are a spiritual congregation merely being persecuted for their spiritual connection to the holy land of Israel.
“It is the responsibility of the government and people of Israel as custodians of the Judaic faith to rise to this challenge the same way Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries defend Muslim faithful all over the world”. (Daily Biafra)
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has raised the alarm over alleged harrassment of its members by the All Progressives Congress(APC) administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The PDP, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, has alleged that the BUhari-led Federal Government is planning to incarcerate 50 of its members, before the end of the year, under the guise of fighting corruption.
Adeyeye said so far, five PDP members have been arrested and detained illegally by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).
The PDP spokesman said the alleged harrassment is part of plans by the APC administration to cripple the opposition, ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“The latest needless onslaught against our party members is the plan by the APC government at the centre, to incarcerate 50 members of our party before the end of this year, with a view to using their arrests to deceive Nigerians that the failed anti-corruption war is still on course.
“Already, five members of our party have been illegally arrested and detained by EFCC without any charge preferred against them.
“Who the rest 45 members to be picked up are, we cannot say in the immediate.
“However, we are by no means scared of the persecution by the Buhari administration as we are sure that daylight is about to break, after the dark night of the APC administration.
“The current wave of arrests, therefore, has nothing to do with the failed anti-corruption war but everything with 2019 elections.
“Having failed on all its major election planks and with nothing to show for its over 30 months in office, the APC government has come to the conclusion that the only way to prevent its inevitable defeat at the polls in 2019 is to hound, harass, intimidate and suppress members of our party into submission.
“However, we wish to state clearly that irrespective of what the APC government do in an attempt at bringing the PDP down to its knees, we shall remain irrepressible and will not bow to any tyranny.
“The APC has already thrown away its chances in the 2019 elections by its non-performance.
“No amount of intimidation and harassment of the opposition will improve its fortunes.
“We call on all men and women of goodwill to rise up to challenge the invidious attempt of the APC government to turn Nigeria into a gestapo state and undermine our hard-earned democracy on the altar of political desperation.” (The Sun)