- Says travel ban discriminatory, attack on diplomatic relations
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate Tuesday flayed the United Kingdom’s inclusion of Nigeria in its COVID-19 red list without justification, saying the travel ban is discriminatory and an attack on diplomatic relations between the two nations.
The Red Chamber at plenary 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 taking 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.
The upper chamber 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 the resolutions reached by the Senate sequel to the consideration of a motion on the ‘Need for Government of the United Kingdom to remove Nigeria from COVID-19 Red List’, sponsored by the former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West).
Coming under order 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.
According to him, “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 UK within this period will be denied visa and those with visa will not be allowed to enter the UK.”
The ranking senator noted that Nigerians have consistently complied with all the COVID-19 protocols required by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UK Government for travellers prior to the 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.”
Ekweremadu drew the attention of the chamber to global concerns over vaccines hoarding and inequity and the resulting consequences on low-income nations in the fight against COVID-19.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, said the decision to include Nigeria on the UK COVID-19 red list poses a strain on the diplomatic relationship between both countries and bemoaned the poor treatment of Nigeria by the UK government.
He, therefore, called on the British Parliament to intervene with a view to having Nigeria removed from the country’s COVID-19 red list.
“Let there be justification for it. We are not saying that they cannot 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 their government to remove Nigeria from the so called red list,” he said.