The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) says it wants a referendum on self-determination for the south-east of Nigeria not asylum.
A referendum is a vote on which the citizens of a country give their opinion or decide an important political question. Territorial referendum could lead to breakaway of a region from a country.
The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) released new guidelines on how to treat asylum applications by members of Biafran secessionist groups.
In the guidelines, asylum is to be granted to “persecuted” members of the proscribed IPOB and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
But in a swift response, the federal government said the plan by the UK to grant the group asylum undermines Nigeria’s security.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Emma Powerful, IPOB media and publicity secretary, said while the group appreciates the gesture from the UK, what members need is a referendum not asylum.
“We the global family of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) ably led by our great and indomitable leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has noted with satisfaction the news that the United Kingdom has agreed to grant asylum to persecuted Biafra agitators resident in the UK,” he said.
“While we commend them for this bold initiative, we wish to most graciously remind them that what we Biafrans need and cherish the most is referendum and not asylum in the UK.
“We are tired of living in bondage in the devilish contraption called Nigeria they single-handedly created.
“We would not wish our children, now and generations unborn, to share the same geo-political space with those that reward terrorists and criminalize law abiding citizens.
“We particularly thank the UK government for confirming what the rest of the civilized world already know that the great IPOB worldwide family are not terrorists but peaceful agitators and freedom fighters.
“That Nigeria is a country run by terrorists for the benefit of terrorists has been confirmed by this noble move by the United Kingdom.
“Aso Rock, the seat of power in Nigeria is a terrorist haven with serving ministers who are openly sympathetic to terrorists and their activities coming and going as they please, while freedom fighters are languishing in jail. We want freedom not asylum.”