The British government will not support the agitation for a separate nation of Biafra, the High Commission in Nigeria told Nigerian foremost online news media SaharaReporters today in a statement.
Mr. Joe Abuku, the High Commission’s Press & Public Affairs Officer, asserted that the position of the United Kingdom Government during the Civil War is a matter of historical record.
“The UK Government’s position, which reflected the Charter of the Organization of African Unity, was to recognise the borders laid down at Independence,” he said. “The Biafran War caused great suffering and the UK supported the reconciliation work that followed the conflict. The UK supports the territorial integrity of Nigeria and President Buhari’s commitment to work for a secure and prosperous Nigeria for all Nigerians.”
The expressed position of the British High commission tallies with a widely-circulated letter written by UK Minister of State, Grant Shapps, affirming a similar position concerning Biafra agitation. That letter was written in response to MP Micheal Meacher, following an inquiry by one of Mr. Meacher’s constituents who had written to inquire about the detention of Nnamdi Kanu of Radio Biafra.
According to Mr. Shapps, “The UK fully supports the territorial integrity of Nigeria and President Buhari’s commitment to work for a secure and prosperous Nigeria for all Nigerians. We share the concern of President Buhari and all Nigerians about threats to Nigeria’s stability and are working with Nigeria to help tackle these threats, including Boko Haram.
Mr. Abuku said he could not confirm the authenticity of the Hon. Grant Shapps letter as it is not their practice to confirm or deny the authenticity of leaked documents.
Mr. Kanu remains in detention in Abuja, following his arrest in Lagos last month. According to his attorneys, he has been unable to meet the conditions of a strident bail given by a magistrate.
Since his arrest, Biafra activists have embarked on protests in several cities across the world. In some cases they have visited Nigeria embassies and threatened to burn down their buildings.
Mr. Kanu is a dual citizen of both the UK and Nigeria. According to Mr. Abuku, the UK High Commission has a standing position stating thus: The British government only provides consular assistance to dual nationals in the country of their other nationality in exceptional circumstances.
If the High Commission is approached for consular assistance by a British National in Nigeria who also holds a Nigerian passport, the level of support that could be offered in their case would be discussed with the individual concerned.