BRITAIN has made a U-turn regarding its stance on secessionist group the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) opting to classify it as a terrorist organisation which would exclude its members from accessing political asylum.
Ipob has been seeking to recreate the defunct breakaway state of Biafra which existed during the Nigerian civil war between July 1967 and January 1970. Its leader Nnamdi Kanu, is currently in detention facing treason charges and his supporters regularly clash with Nigerian security officials.
In a May 2022 update of its asylum policy, the UK government excluded Ipob members from seeking refuge in England in a reversal of its existing policy. In April 2021, the UK was planning to grant asylum to persecuted members of the separatist group, as part of its refugee policy published at the time.
At the time, the policy was for asylum to be granted to those described as persecuted members of the Ipob and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra. 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.
If the person can prove persecution, then the Ipob member or supporter could be granted asylum. A few days after the policy notes were published, the UK government took it down, following complaints from the Nigerian government.