Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Senate on Tuesday rejected the ban­ning of visitors from Nigeria by the Unit­ed Kingdom and Canada, describing the move as discriminatory and unfair.

They have asked British and Cana­dian authorities to consider removing Nigeria from the red list.

Canada and the United Kingdom hast­ily included Nigeria among the omicron present countries which must stay away from their shores following the discovery on De­cember 1, 2021.

However, in a statement signed by Governor Kayode Fayemi, Chairman, NGF, the group notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) of the ar­bitrary stigmatization that is caused by the recent banning of countries from visitation-based on omicron spread.

“NGF wishes to draw the attention of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the ar­bitrary stigmatization that is caused by the recent banning of countries from visitation based on omicron spread”, stated the NGF chairman.

“Omicron still remains rela­tively unknown globally as it is not yet clear whether it is more transmissible from person to person compared to other vari­ants including Delta.

“It is very discouraging to note that there are several countries that have reported cases of omicron similar to or higher than Nigeria’s, that have not been banned from entry to the UK and/Canada.

“Confirmed Omicron cas­es as at December 3rd, across some countries are Nigeria (3); Australia (7); Brazil (3); Ger­many (9) Israel (4); Italy (9) and The Netherlands (16). There is also no evidence that harsh, blanket travel bans will protect the countries that impose them.

“It is ironical that this ban comes at a time when the DG of the WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, has advised that ‘rational pro­portional risk reduction mea­sures’ be taken by countries such as screening passengers prior to departure and/or upon arrival in a country, or enforc­ing a quarantine period.

“The NGF, therefore, urges the WHO to intervene in this matter by setting uniform stan­dards that are acceptable to all for banning countries across the globe.

“As we know, vaccine hes­itancy is quite high and for many reasons including dis­ruptive announcements like this which could exacerbate distrust of the vaccine and heighten hesitancy.

“World leaders and stake­holders in the West need to re­member that with the COVID-19 pandemic until everyone is free, no one is free. Variants will continue to appear and spread across the globe as long as glob­al herd immunity has not been achieved.”

Senate Says Travel Ban Discriminatory, Attack On Diplomatic Relations

Similarly, the Senate has condemned the United King­dom’s inclusion of Nigeria in their COVID-19 red list without justification.

The chamber, accordingly, called on the British authorities to consider removing Nigeria from the red list.

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

The Senate urged the Feder­al Government to engage the British authorities to reverse Nigeria’s inclusion on the red list.

It also charged the 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 vaccines powers, namely Brit­ain, Canada, America, and the European Union, among others, to take urgent and bold steps to ensure vaccine equity in the interest of the entire hu­man race.

These were resolutions reached by the chamber 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 Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West).

Coming under order 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules, Ekwer­emadu noted with satisfaction the efforts of the government 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 their 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 visa and those with visa will not be allowed to enter the U.K.”

The lawmaker noted that Nigerians have 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 emphasized that “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 U.K.”

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

He bemoaned the poor treat­ment of Nigeria by the UK 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.





By Chidi Ugwu and Kingsley Benneth,

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