The high representative for foreign affairs of the European Union has responded to a letter by Washington-based Organization of Emerging African States (Oeas) seeking support in the ongoing fight for the independence of Biafra from Nigeria.
Federica Mogherini said that questions of self-determination and changes to national borders should be addressed by respecting international law and relative customary practice. She added that the EU has a long-standing relationship with Nigeria and follows closely all the political developments in the African nation.
Thousands of people have been holding protests across several states in south east Nigeria calling for the independence of the Biafran territories, which were forcibly annexed to modern-day Nigeria during the British colonisation.
Protests have increased following the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu – director of Radio Biafra and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra – who was apprehended in Lagos by the State Security Service (DSS) last October. A hearing on his bail application has been scheduled for 20 January.
In a statement published earlier in December, Oeas – which advocates for people's right to self-determination – warned that Nigeria could risk a "civil strife" if pro-Biafrans' demands were not met.
The organisation also said Nigeria should hold a referendum on the Biafra issue within 90 days, with independent observers supervising the polls.
UK MPs speak on Biafra
British MP Angela Reyner said in a statement on Twitter that she had contacted the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office expressing concern over "the situation in Biafra".
Reyner's call for investigations on the ongoing situation follows MPs Tom Elliott and Danny Kinahan's motion in which they acknowledged pro-Biafran calls for independence.
The motion read: "That this House acknowledges the Biafran issue could be improved with the co-operation of the Nigerian government by offering a referendum; and urges the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to use its diplomatic strength to assist in the resolution of this matter."
Last November, James Duddridge, Minister for Africa and the Caribbean, confirmed that British consular officials will meet Kanu – who holds British and Nigerian citizenships – after a question from Kanu's constituency MP, Harriet Harman.
Meanwhile, an exclusive report by IBTimes UK revealed that an Amsterdam-based group of lawyers will also file a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on alleged human rights abuses against pro-Biafrans. The lawyers announced they will file the complaint on 29 January.
President Muhammadu Buhari's government has always maintained that Nigeria's unity is a priority for the country and that although peaceful pro-Biafran protests are welcome, demanding the breakaway of the Biafran territories is against the constitution.
The Nigerian government told IBTimes UK that it does not consider the separatist movement a threat to the current leadership, and defined pro-Biafrans as an "insignificant number of frustrated people who are not a threat to the existence of Nigeria".