The British Government has pulled down a notice it published regarding its asylum policy for pro-Biafra groups like Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for the Actualisation of Biafra (MASSOB).
In an email sent to Radio Now and signed by Hannah Dawson, senior communications officer-Newsdesk at the Home office, the British government said the policy is being reviewed and uploaded once it is ready.
“Out note on Biafra separatists has been taken down for review; an update is expected shortly,” the statement reads.
The UK government did not give a time frame when the updated policy would be uploaded to their website.
The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) had recently released new guidelines to its decision-makers on how to consider and grant asylum applications by members of Biafran secessionist groups.
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 earlier released ‘Country Policy and Information Note Nigeria: Biafran secessionist groups’, 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. However, the prosecution may 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. The 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”.