Social media users on Monday widely condemned British government’s recent imposition of travel restrictions on Nigeria amid fears over the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron.
Critics say the action by the government was “discriminatory”.
The UK Health Secretary, Sajid Javid on Saturday, included Nigeria to the UK travel “red list”, meaning arrivals from the west African country will be banned, except for UK and Irish residents.
He said there were “significant number” of Omicron cases linked to Nigeria, with 27 cases already recorded in England.
But the Nigerian authorities have refuted the claims, saying they have not recorded any new Omicron case in the country since announcing that they had detected three cases in travellers who arrived from South Africa on Dec 1.
Querying the British government for its action, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed speaking to newsmen on Monday said:
“How do you slam this kind of discriminatory action on a country of 200 million people, just because of less than two dozen cases?
“Whereas British citizens and residents are allowed to come in from Nigeria, non-residents from the same country are banned.”
He held that the decision by Britain to treat Nigeria in such a manner was not driven by science and called on the UK government to review its move, while adhering to the recommendations of the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres who described the actions on most West African countries as “travel apartheid”.
A Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, also reacting to the ban, wrote on Facebook: “To say that the travel ban imposed on Nigerians by the UK is ‘travel apartheid’ is putting it mildly. It is far worse than that. It is racist, discriminatory, wicked, unacceptable, self-serving, vile, sinister, selective, vicious, provocative and unacceptable. We should reciprocate the gesture”
While many share Fani-Kayode’s sentiments and are calling for a requited gesture, others have opined that the outbursts especially from the elites is as a result of their personal travel interests.
See reactions below:
By Okiemute Abraham and Ijeoma Ilekanachi
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