The Minister who issued a strongly-worded response to the travel ban, said the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) would respond appropriately to the matter which had elicited criticism of racism across the globe.
Nonetheless, the Minister expressed hope that the UK government would immediately review and rescind its decision.
Addressing the media in Abuja, Lai said the decision was “unjust, unfair, punitive, indefensible, discriminatory and also not driven by science.
He said, “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, the Omicron variant, in Nigeria. Britain now joins other countries, including Canada, which have taken similar action against Nigeria over Omicron.
“Let me say straight away that it’s up to the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) to respond to this action by the British Government and others, and I have no doubt that the committee will respond appropriately.
“However, as the spokesman for the Federal Government, I can say, without mincing words, that the decision by the British Government to put Nigeria on the red list, just because of less than two dozen cases of Omicron which, by the way, did not originate in Nigeria, is unjust, unfair, punitive, indefensible and discriminatory. The decision is also not driven by science.
“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. The two groups are coming from the same country, but being subjected to different conditions.
“Why won’t Britain allow people in both categories to come in, and be subjected to the same conditions of testing and quarantine? This is why this decision to ban travelers from Nigeria, who are neither citizens nor residents, is grossly discriminatory and punitive.
“We sincerely hope the British Government will immediately review the decision to put Nigeria on its red list and rescind it immediately. Nigeria has handled the Covid-19 pandemic with utmost responsibility and based on science, and has rightly earned global accolades for its efforts. Nigeria does not belong on any country’s red list.”
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