The agitation for the actualisation of an independent Biafra state may have been struck with a deafening blow following the refusal by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom to recognise the passports being issued by the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
The refusal came on the heels of a statement credited to the National Director of Information, MASSOB, Sunny Okereafor, two weeks ago, where he claimed that the passport was valid worldwide, adding that the travel document costs N5,000 while its renewal costs N2,000
He said: “I assure you that the Biafran passport is valid. Except Nigeria, other countries of the world accept Biafran passport and allow our citizens to travel with it. In Europe, North and South America, Biafran passport is accepted. Nigeria is the only country that seizes Biafran passport. Go to neighbouring Ghana here, they will stamp the passport for you. Don’t be confused by the propaganda of the Nigerian government that there is nothing like Biafra passport.
“MASSOB appeals to Biafran citizens to procure their passport and use it to travel. If you doubt me, get a Nigerian passport while I have my Biafran passport; when we get to Europe, you will see who they will welcome than the other. Many people with the Nigerian passport have been repatriated, but have you heard of anybody with Biafran passport receiving such ill-treatment?”
However, The Punch reports that an inquiry into the claim made by MASSOB at the American consulate in Lagos divulged that the Biafran passport was not recognized.
Responding, the Deputy Public Affairs Officer at the consulate, Frank Sellin, said, “The United States does not consider passports purporting to be from a Biafra entity to be a valid legal document for purposes of visa issuance.”
In the same vein, the British Government gave a similar response.
A statement by the Press and Public Affairs Officer, British High Commission, Abuja, Mr. Joe Abuku, read in part, “The answer is unequivocally ‘no’. The UK does not recognise the so-called Biafran passport
“The position of the UK Government during the Biafran War is a matter of historical record. The UK Government’s position, which reflected the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity, was to recognise the borders laid down at independence.
“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 the Nigerian Government’s commitment to work for a secure and prosperous Nigeria for all Nigerians.”