A Federal Court in Canada has denied the asylum application of Davies Chijioke Chukwudi, a local coordinator of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), over his affiliation with violence-tainted Eastern Security Network (ESN), an offshoot of IPOB as well as the separatist group’s intent to overthrow the Nigerian government by “force”.
Citing a 2019 incident in which former deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, was violently attacked by IPOB members in Germany, the Canadian Court drew its conclusion that the separatist group was not as peaceful as Mr Chukwudi, the asylum applicant, claimed it to be.
“The documentary evidence demonstrates that the IPOB claims responsibility for the attacks on Nigerian government’s representatives in Spain and Germany in 2019, and created a militarised group, the Eastern Security Network [ESN], that engages in numerous fights against the government forces,” reads the document detailing Mr Chukwudi’s asylum denial. “In sum, the IPOB’s actions are indicative of its willingness to use force.”
In another paragraph, the foreign Court said IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu had on several occasions incited members to take violent actions against the Nigerian government to drive home its secession demands.
“The ID (Immigration Division) found that the IPOB’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu, through his radio and television channels and his social media, encouraged violent acts against the Nigerian state on numerous occasions,” reads the document detailing the asylum denial.
The Court maintained “the evidence of his incitements to violence was found to be contrary to the IPOB’s — and Mr Chukwudi’s — claim that the IPOB is a peaceful organisation.”
Mr Chukwudi challenged the Court’s decision on three grounds arguing that IPOB resorted to violent acts as a “survival response” and some sort of defence mechanism against the Nigerian government which had long persecuted the group.
But the Court said violence against the government “cannot be used to legitimise acts of subversion by force.”
The asylum applicant also argued that the reports from the Nigerian press could not be trusted, saying the African nation “lacks journalistic integrity.” He claimed that if the reports were properly analysed, the ID would have found the information obtained from its Nigerian sources “inadmissible and unreliable.”
But the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, who was the respondent in the case, dismissed the claim noting that Mr Chukwudi himself relied on multiple Nigerian sources but interestingly finds them “too doubtful and unreliable for the ID.” The Court said it was the ID’s prerogative to determine the documentary evidence that was reliable, which it did before arriving at the decision to deny him the asylum application.
“The Nigerian climate of corruption and its doubtful freedom of press does not make all evidence unreliable,” reads the document as the Court cited an article by Germany-based publication, DW News, which reported the fights between the Nigerian military and ESN.
Consequently, after carefully looking at all Mr Chukwudi’s arguments, the Court said it was not convinced that the Immigration Division (ID) erred in its decision to deny the IPOB member’s application for asylum, hence, dismissed the matter.
“In sum, I find that the ID could reasonably conclude, based on the documentary evidence before it, that the IPOB used force against the Nigerian government with the intention to subvert it and obtain secession of Biafra”
“This Court’s judgement is that: this application for judicial review is dismissed, without costs,” the document dated March 28, stated. “The decision constituted a reasonable outcome based on the law and the evidence, and it has the requisite attributes of transparency, justification, and intelligibility.”
Mr Chukwudi was represented by Marie Pierre and Blais Ménard while Lisa Maziade appeared for the minister in the matter listed on the docket as IMM-3479-22.