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COVID-19 red list: NASS condemns UK ban

THE Senate has condemned the decision by the British Government to include Nigeria in their COVID-19 red list without justification.

The Senate also called on the British government to as a matter of urgency remove Nigeria from the red list and be sensitive to the diplomatic relationship between the two countries.

A motion by the former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, stated that it is worrying that Nigerians who have a genuine need to visit the U.K within this period will be denied a Visa and those with one will not be allowed to enter the UK.

Senator Ekweremadu also noted that targeting African countries especially in the COVID-19 travel ban amounts to profiling and discrimination as well as an attack on Nigeria’s cordial diplomatic relationship with the UK.

Mr Ekweremadu came under Orders 42. and 52 of the Senate Standing Orders as Amended.

The lawmakers then called on the Federal Government to constructively engage the British authorities with a view to reverse this inclusion.

The Upper Chamber also called on the major vaccine powers, namely, Britain, Canada, America, and the European Union, among others, to take urgent and bold steps to ensure vaccine equity in the best interest of the entire human race.

issuance of visitors’ visa

Also, the House of representatives is to interface with the federal ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs and the Presidential Task Force on COVID 19 on ways to resolve the suspension of issuance of visitors’ visa to Nigerians by the United Kingdom.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion under matters of urgent public importance on the need to intervene on the issue sponsored by the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu.

Leading the debate, Mr. Elumelu expressed concern that though the ban is for Nigerians bound for the UK, it does not exempt over eight thousand Nigerian travelers that have bought air tickets to visit Nigeria during this festive period.

He explained that if the Nigerian Government does not urgently engage the authorities of the United Kingdom, the decision would have a significant impact on businesses and travelers as well as revenue generation.

Supporting the motion, a member from Kaduna State Garba Datti, described the action of the UK Government as contempt that needs urgent action.

Aminu Sulaiman, a member from Kano State described the situation as apprehensive stressing the need for a diplomatic approach to the issue.

Other members who contributed to the debate said the travel ban by the UK authorities was a wake-up call for the authorities in Nigeria to fix the nation’s education, health and other sectors for the better.

While adopting the motion, the House urged Nigerians to support the government in its efforts to reform and develop the country.

It also suggested the need for proper protocols to guide the country’s response to any emergency situation including the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron that triggered the travel ban on Nigerians by some countries.

Reporting by Ibrahim Shehu; Editing by Tina Oyinsan