New Telegraph

…Reps tackle UK over travel ban

The House of Representatives on Tuesday condemned the travel ban placed on Nigeria by the United Kingdom. It consequently mandated its committees on health and foreign affairs to meet with the ministries of health, foreign affairs and presidential task force on COVID-19 to discuss the issue. The decision was consequent upon a motion brought by the Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu at plenary.

Presenting the motion, Elumelu noted that in an announcement by the UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Saturday, a temporary ban was placed on foreign travellers from Nigeria to Britain with effect from December 6 as a result of concerns over Omicron variant of COVID-19. He said the decision covers travel to the UK for tourism, visiting friends and family, undertak ing short-term business activities, short-term studies, exchange programmes as well as medical reasons. Elumelu expressed disappointment that this is coming only a few days after Canada extended its travel ban on travellers who recently visited Nigeria. He said, “Further aware that though the ban is for Nigerians bound for the UK, it does not exempt over 8,000 Nigerian travellers that have bought air tickets to visit Nigeria during this festive period, as the restrictions would affect their re-entry into the UK after holidays.

“Worried that rather than seek to work with its commonwealth ally on ways to combat and curtail the spread of this new variant, the UK government decided to ban Nigerian travellers from entering their country, which is a sharp contrast to that of the United States whose response is for travellers to produce evidence of negative test results at the point of departure as well as Day Two test results after arrival in their country, a response that have received wide commendation across board.” The minority leader said he was unhappy that the UK chose to announce the ban without discussing the data in its possession with the Nigerian government, but instead gave an hour notice to the authorities before its inclusion on the red list, contrary to known international convention.

He said it was a fact that Omicron variant has now been found in over 40 countries, including European nations, but only Nigeria and a few African countries have been banned by the UK. Elumelu said, “Further concerned that this decision if left unchallenged will stop thousands of Nigerians that normally come back home at this time of the year to boost the social and economic activities of the country from coming into the country, thereby causing the nation a serious revenue loss. “Disturbed that if the Nigerian government does not urgently engage UK authorities, this decision would have a significant impact on businesses and travellers intending to carryout lawful transactions in the UK as opportunities and investments already made would be lost, hence the need for a quick interface.

“Further disturbed that children who school abroad and had thought of returning home during this festive period to reunite with their families, and with fears that when they later go back will be subjected to a 10-day mandatory isolation and be made to pay £2,700 for such hotel bookings may be totally discouraged from coming home and thereby deny such families the opportunity of their children rejoining them for this annual family union.” The meeting was endorsed unanimously.

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