The Federal Government on Tuesday described the reported decision of the United Kingdom to grant asylum to “persecuted” members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as disrespectful of Nigeria as a nation.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, while fielding questions at a News Agency of Nigeria flagship interview programme, NANForum, on Tuesday in Abuja, said the decision was unacceptable to Nigeria.
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He said the decision was akin to sabotaging the fight against terrorism and generally undermining Nigeria’s security.
“Let me say straight away that this issue is within the purview of the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and I am sure he will handle it appropriately.
“But as the spokesman for the Federal Government of Nigeria, I will say that if indeed the report that the UK will grant asylum to supposedly persecuted IPOB and MASSOB members is true, then something is wrong somewhere.
“Against the background of the fact that IPOB is not only proscribed but also designated as a terrorist organisation here in Nigeria, the UK’s decision is disrespectful of Nigeria as a nation.
“The decision amounts to sabotaging the fight against terrorism and generally undermining Nigeria’s security.
“It is not only unconscionable, it is inexplicable,’’ the minister stated.
He noted the IPOB had been fingered as being behind the recent heightened attacks against security agencies in the Southeast
“For the UK to choose this time to give succour to IPOB beggars belief and calls to question the UK’s real intention.
“If we could go down the memory lane, what the UK has done is like Nigeria offering asylum to members of the IRA before the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement,’’ the minister said.
Secessionists can’t intimidate Buhari – Presidency
Meanwhile, a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, on Tuesday said nobody could bully or intimidate President Muhammadu Buhari to break Nigeria.
Shehu, who spoke in Abuja at the All Progressives Congress National Secretariat during a media interface organised by APC Professional Group, described secession agitators as enemies of Nigeria and asked Nigerians to ignore them.
“Look, one thing with this President is that you can’t intimidate Buhari. You can’t bully him. A lot of these people who are calling for secessions are the problem of this country and I’m happy that reasonable voices are now rising.
“Is it not only yesterday (Monday) we were reading Afenifere, the most credible faction of Afenifere saying we’re not for secession. The Ohanaze Ndigbo said this over and over again.
“So this thing about secession is, they had used it in the past. You create secession and break up Nigeria and then you intimidate the sitting leader and then he opens the booth and he brings money to settle people.
“President Buhari will pay no one. He is not going to pay and now it is clear that having ignored all of that, reasonable opinions are coming from those states and from those regions. The governors in the South West, we have all heard them, they have denounced all of these things.
“So it’s a sham. Nigerians want to be one, they want to continue. Yes, there are problems and we are hoping that as people united and loving of one another, we will come together and solve our problems,” Shehu said.
He ruled out the possibility of the present government organising another national conference.
“The presidency has been talking. And our position is clearl that this country is one, is united, by the grace of God, and will continue to be united,” Shehu said.
The secretary of the APC Caretaker Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, said the party resolved that there should be no further increase in the pump price of fuel.