The British government says it does not support the agitation for the creation of a Biafran nation from Nigeria, stressing that it stands by the borders it handed over to the county at independence in 1960.
In a statement issued yesterday and made available to Daily Sun, the British High Commission, Abuja, explained that the position of the UK government during the civil war was 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,” the High Commission’s Press and Public Affairs Officer, Joe Abuku 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,” he added.
Campaigners for Biafra have been staging protests over the arrest and detention of Radio Biafra host, Nnamdi Kanu by the authorities in Abuja. Kanu is a dual citizen of both the UK and Nigeria. Commenting on his detention, Abuku said 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.”
Meanwhile, agency reports said 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 Radio Biafra host, Nnamdi Kanu.
Mr. Shapps wrote the letter to an MP, Micheal Meacher, in response to an inquiry by one of Mr. Meacher’s constituents who had written to inquire about the detention of Kanu. “We are not aware of any institutionalized persecution of any people by the Nigerian authorities,” he declared.
“The position of the British Government during the Biafran War is a matter of historical record,” he recalled.
“Our position, which reflected the Charter of the Organization of African Unity, was to recognise the borders laid down at Independence. There is no question that the Biafran War caused great suffering and the UK supported the reconciliation work that followed the conflict and continues to support efforts to reduce violence in Nigeria today.”
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.”
Reports quoted Abuku as saying 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.