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Senate wants UK to remove Nigeria from COVID-19 travel ban

The Nigerian Senate has called on the British authorities to consider removing Nigeria from their Coronavirus (COVID-19) red list.

The Nigerian Senate
The Nigerian Senate

The Senate also condemned what it called the United Kingdom’s inclusion of Nigeria in the COVID-19 red list without justification.

These were resolutions reached by the Senate at plenary on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, following the consideration of a motion on the “Need for Government of the United Kingdom to remove Nigeria from COVID-19 Red List”.

The motion was sponsored by Sen. Ike Ekweremadu (PDP-Enugu West).

It advised the UK government to be sensitive to the diplomatic relationship between both countries when taking decisions that affect Nigerian citizens.

The senate also urged the Federal Government to engage the British authorities on reversing Nigeria’s inclusion on the list.

It also called on the Buhari administration to remain firm in the enforcement of necessary protocols in the containment of every COVID-19 variant in Nigeria.

It further called on major vaccine powers like Britain, Canada, America, and the European Union, among others, to take urgent steps to ensure vaccine equity in the interest of the entire human race.

Coming under Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules, Ekweremadu noted with satisfaction the efforts of the Government of Nigeria in the containment and treatment of COVID-19 cases.

He said, “Nigeria is among the countries with the lowest cases of COVID-19.

“The decision by the British Government to include Nigeria in its COVID-19 list, with its concomitant implications, will affect many citizens of Nigeria, who had planned to spend their Christmas and New Year holiday with their families.

“Also worried that Nigerians with genuine needs to visit the U.K within this period will be denied visas and those with visas will not be allowed to enter the U.K.”

He noted that Nigerians had consistently complied with all the COVID-19 protocols required by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and U.K. Government for travelers prior to the ban.

He emphasised that targeting African countries, especially in the COVID-19 travel ban, amounted to profiling and discrimination as well as an attack on Nigeria’s cordial diplomatic relationship with the U.K.

Ekweremadu drew the attention of the senate to global concerns over vaccine hoarding and inequity and the resulting consequences on low-income nations in the fight against COVID-19.

In his remarks, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said that the decision to include Nigeria on the UK COVID-19 red list posed a strain on the diplomatic relationship between both countries.

He also decried the poor treatment of Nigeria by the U.K. government.

Lawan, therefore, called on the British Parliament to intervene with a view to having Nigeria removed from the country’s COVID-19 red list.

He said: “Let there be justification for it. We are not saying that they can not put any country on the red list, including Nigeria, but there must be reasons for doing that.

“And of course, Nigeria has done so well to the admiration of many countries in the area of containment of COVID-19.

“Therefore, we don’t see any reason why Nigeria will be on that so called red list. I believe that Nigerians deserve better treatment from the British government.

“I’m using this opportunity to ask the British Parliament to mount pressure on its government to remove Nigeria from the so called red list.”

By Kingsley Okoye

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