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Nigerian Senate condemns UK’s travel ban over omicron, seeks reversal

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The Nigerian Senate has called for the urgent reversal of the United Kingdom’s decision to add Nigeria to its Coronavirus (COVID-19) red list.

This decision was condemned by the Senate on Tuesday at plenary, following the consideration of a motion on the “Need for Government of the United Kingdom to remove Nigeria from its 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 relations between both countries when making decisions that affect Nigerian citizens.

The Senate also urged the Federal Government to engage the British authorities in 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.

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.

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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.”

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 relations between both countries.

He also decried 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.

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.”

In a similar vein, the House of Reps through a motion of urgent public importance by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, asked the Foreign Affairs Ministry to interface with the UK government to reverse the decision of the ban.

The House is worried that the decision of the UK will affect Nigerian students in the UK who may be unable to return for the yuletide celebration.

In his remarks, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila mandated the committees on health and foreign affairs to interface with the PSC on the best way to resolve the matter.

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