Omicron – Senate Condemns UK’s ‘Red List’, Wants Nigeria Removed

News World

The Nigerian Senate has condemned the decision of the United Kingdom to include Nigeria in its COVID-19 red list.

This act, the lawmakers said, was done without any justification.

The Senate also called on the federal government to engage the British authorities with a view to reversing this inclusion.

These are some of the resolutions adopted by the lawmakers after they debated a motion on “the need for the UK Government to remove Nigeria from the red list.”

Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu West) sponsored the motion.

He had raised a point of order to express concern on the UK Government’s recent decision – despite the fact that Nigeria is among the countries with the lowest cases of COVID-19.

The UK had on Saturday announced that travellers from Nigeria would not be permitted to enter the United Kingdom from 6 December, due to the growing concerns over an outbreak of the omicron variant of coronavirus.

The announcement came a few days after Canada extended its travel ban to travellers who recently visited Nigeria.

The British High Commission has also paused the issuance of visitor’s visas to citizens of countries on the United Kingdom red list, including Nigeria – until the travel ban is lifted.

The Nigerian government on Tuesday rejected the travel ban, which it described as “Kneel-jerk, apartheid, discriminatory, punitive, unfair, indefensible and unscientific.”

It called on the British government to immediately review the decision.

Many African leaders, and the World Health Organisation, have frowned at the travel ban on African countries as the variant, they said, has been detected in many parts of the world.

The motion

Leading the debate, Mr Ekweremadu, a former deputy senate president, noted the efforts of the federal government to contain and treat COVID-19 cases.

He,however, expressed worry that the decision by the British Government to include Nigeria in their COIVD-19 red list, with its concomitant implications, will affect many citizens of Nigeria, who had planned to spend their Christmas and New Year holidays with their families.

Nigerians with genuine needs to visit the UK within this period will be denied visa and those with visa will not be allowed to enter the UK, he explained.

The lawmaker also described the restriction as discriminatory and targeted at African countries.

“Nigerians have consistently complied with all the COVID-19 protocols required by the World Health Organisatiion and the UK Government for travellers prior to this ban,” he said.

“Targeting African countries, especially in the COVID-19 travel ban, amounts to profiling and discrimination as well as an attack on our cordial diplomatic relationship with the UK.

“We are aware of the global concerns over vaccines hoarding and inequity and the resulting consequences on low-income nations in the fight against COVID-19.”

The Senate therefore urged the British authorities to consider removing Nigeria from the COVID-19 red list and to be sensitive to the diplomatic relationship between the two countries in taking decisions that affect Nigerian citizens.

It also admonished the Nigerian Government to remain firm in the enforcement of all necessary protocols in the containment of every COVID-19 variant in Nigeria.

Major vaccine powers like Britain, Canada, America, and the European Union were also called upon to take urgent and bold steps to ensure vaccine equity in the best interest of the entire human race.

Last week, Nigeria joined the growing number of countries that have recorded the first cases of the Omicron variant also known as B.1.1.529 lineage.

Already, three persons with a history of travel to South Africa returned positive tests for the new variant, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

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