The federal government said on Monday, that its Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 would respond to the travel ban imposed on Nigeria by Britain.
Britain’s travel restriction apparently had been aped by the entire United Kingdom and other countries.
The UK imposed the travel ban, having put Nigeria, along with a few others, on its red list of suspected shores from where the latest variant of COVID-19, Omicron, can spread.
Reacting, however, the Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, said Britain’s action was discriminatory and not based on scientific discovery as the world was made to believe.
He particularly deplored the ban restriction slammed on Nigeria by the UK, Canada, Indonesia, Hong Kong and others.
The minister, a member of the steering committee on COVID-19, said the committee would issue its reaction any moment soon.
“As you are aware, Britain has put Nigeria on its red list and banned foreign travels from our country.
“This is as a result of the discovery of COVID-19 cases, Omicron variant, in Nigeria. Britain now joins other countries, including Canada, which has taken a similar action against Nigeria over Omicron.
“Let me say straight away that it’s up to the Presidential Steering Committee to respond to this action by the British government and others, and I have no doubt that the committee will respond appropriately.”
Mohammed contended that Britain’s decision was based on discrimination and prejudice and not science, “because so far, no one has died of the Omicron strain”.
He said it was obvious that many in the West were unhappy that their predictions on COVID-19 infections had failed to take place.
Muhammed noted that many from the UK had also tested positive in Nigeria but Britain was not banned.
He, however, justified why Nigeria still received South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, and his entourage despite the country recording a large number of Omicron cases.
He said even the United Nations had come against the recent travel bans, adding that it was nonsensical and nothing but travel apartheid.
“If somebody who is a Nigerian but holds a British passport is allowed to enter Britain, he is as risky as I am. Is it the passport that now reduces his risk? That doesn’t make sense. If my cousin who holds a British passport stays in my house and is going back, you allow him to come in but you say I can’t?” Mohammed wondered.
He faulted claims that Nigeria deserved to be banned because 21 persons with history of travel to Nigeria had tested positive in the UK.
But on Monday too, the UK had sneered at Nigeria’s complaint, saying the ban could not be reversed, explaining that it was a temporary measure to safeguard its public health.
The Head of Communications, British High Commission, Abuja, Dean Hurlock, said the decision was a precautionary measure to protect public health in the UK.
“We know that this decision will have a significant impact on people in both our countries, particularly at this time of year.
“This decision is a precautionary measure to protect public health in the UK, whilst we try to understand this new variant,” Hurlock said.
Hurlock further said the measures were introduced by the Government of the United Kingdom to prevent further Omicron cases from entering the UK.
“These are temporary measures that have been introduced to prevent further Omicron cases from entering the UK and will be examined at a review point on 20 December.
“We continue to work very closely with the Nigerian authorities in tackling the pandemic and commend their ongoing work,” Hurlock added.