THE United Kingdom has ruled out a blanket ban on members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra who apply for asylum. Rather, the UK says all applications will be considered on their individual merit.
The Head of Communications, British High Commission in Nigeria, Mr. Dean Hurlock, made the clarification during a chat with newsmen.
The UK Visas and Immigration had last month released new guidelines to its decision makers on how to consider and grant asylum applications by members of Biafran secessionist groups.
However, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the move was disrespectful to Nigeria because IPOB had been proscribed by the Federal Government.
The UK subsequently took down the guidelines and promised to update it soon.
In a chat with Journalists on whether IPOB still qualified, Hurlock said applications by all Nigerian nationals would be treated on their individual merit.
He said, “This latest guidance is currently under review and has no longer been made available on our UK Government GOV.UK website.
“All asylum and human rights claims from Nigeria nationals, as is the case with all foreign nationals, are carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with our international obligations.
“We publish reports in this way so it is clearer and fairer for all involved (applicants, their lawyers, judges, stakeholders such as the UNHCR). All UK asylum decisions can be appealed in the immigration courts, which are public.”
When asked if IPOB members would be given asylum if they qualify, he responded, “Every case is assessed on its own merit. If that guidance had never existed, we should still expect to consider a well meaning application fairly and follow due process.”
Attempts to get from the Federal Government proved abortive as the telephone line of the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwoye, indicated that it was switched off while the Minister of Informational, Lai Mohammed, did not respond to an inquiry on Sunday.