UK authorities say IPOB not designated as terrorist organisation
The United Kingdom Government has said the reports that it has designated the Indigenous People of Biafra as a terrorist group are “inaccurate” and “untrue,” noting that the group is not proscribed in the UK.
Many media outlets in Nigeria reported that the secessionist group, which has been proscribed in the country, has been blacklisted by the UK for terrorism.
The media reports were based on the 13 April 2022 publication by the UK Government of a revised Country Policy and Information note (CPIN) on separatist groups in southeast Nigeria, including the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
But nowhere in the CPIN did the UK government say it has designated IPOB as a terrorist group. It, however, pointed out several times in the document that Nigeria has proscribed the group.
The Nigerian Government bought into the reports, with President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu calling on the UK authorities to confiscate IPOB assets, shut down their communication channels and sanction the issuance of visas to IPOB’s funders in Nigeria.
“Such sanctions have played a critical role in combatting other terror groups. And make no mistake: today Africa is a breeding ground for terror, with local and international groups alike gaining strength across the continent, thriving on the economic devastation of the pandemic,” Shehu said.
The British High Commission in Nigeria said in a statement that the latest CPIN on separatist groups in the South East, including the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), provides a general assessment of risks faced by individuals belonging to those groups,”
UK authorities said some violent members of the group or those sympathetic to its reported violent activities would have to undegro stringent screening before they could be granted asylum.
“This CPIN also acknowledges that the Nigerian government has proscribed IPOB as a terrorist organisation, some members of IPOB have reportedly used violence against the state and members of the public, and advises that persons who have committed human rights abuses must not be granted protection,” the British High Commission said.
The CPIN noted that “Decision makers will also need to take into account whether the person supports and is active on behalf of IPOB, which is a proscribed group in Nigeria, and whether they fear prosecution rather than persecution.”
Factors to be considered for asylum seekers linked to IPOB include the “legal status, 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.
Other factors include the person’s profile and political activities (including those online) and relevant documentary or other evidence; the profile and activities of family members; past treatment of the person and evidence that their activities in the UK may have come to the attention of the Nigerian security agencies.