UK: Vaccinated Nigerians can now Enter England without Pre-departure Testing, Self-isolation

The UK Government has changed its travel rules, now allowing fully vaccinated travellers from Nigeria to enter into England without providing a pre-departure test and isolating from October 11.

The UK government disclosed this in a statement made available by its High Commission in Abuja to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.

The High Commission however noted that travellers who are not fully vaccinated must still adhere to the UK government’s COVID-19 guidelines of pre-departure testing and isolation on arrival.

“From Monday, 11 October 2021, fully vaccinated travellers from Nigeria will be able to come to England without needing to provide a pre-departure test, undertake a day 8 test or self-isolate for 10 days.

“Although will still need to book and pay for a day 2 test.

“This policy applies to those fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca (including Covid shield), Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson).

“Fully vaccinated means that you have had a complete course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in England,” the High Commission stated.

Acting British High Commissioner, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, stated that the exemption of fully-vaccinated Nigerians travelling to the UK from providing a pre-departure test and self-isolating for 10 days is a very welcome development.

She noted that to make this happen, we have been working closely with Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency on recognising Nigeria’s vaccine certification, which we have now done.

Llewellyn-Jones expressed the UK’s commitments to opening up international travel and enabling those who wish to enter the UK, to do so safely.

“Vaccines work and – as the pandemic has shown – no one is safe until we are all safe. I would encourage all eligible people to get vaccinated,” Llewellyn-Jones stated.

The UK government however explained that the day a traveller receives the final dose of vaccine does not count as one of the 14 days.

According to the UK government, travellers must be able to prove that they have been fully vaccinated under a vaccination programme and have a valid proof of vaccination recognised by the British Government.

“For Nigeria, the certificates with valid QR codes as issued by Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency are recognised.

“If you are not a fully vaccinated traveller from Nigeria to England, you must: Take a pre-departure COVID-19 test – to be taken in the 3 days before travel.

“Book and pay for day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 tests – to be taken after arrival.

“Complete a passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before arrival.

“After you arrive, you must: quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days.

“Take a pre-booked COVID-19 test on or before day two and on or after day eight,” the High Commission added.



COVID-19: UK moves against Nigeria

The United Kingdom has said it would consider vaccinated  travelers from Nigeria, South America, UAE, India, Turkey, Jordan, Thailand, Russia and other African countries ‘unvaccinated’ from 4am on Monday, October 4.

In new changes to its international travel rules posted on its official website, the UK government said if a person was fully vaccinated for at least 14 days under an approved programme in the UK, Europe, US or any of the ‘recognised’ countries, the individual would not have to quarantine for 10 days and would only be required to carry out COVID-19 test on day two after arriving the UK.

The recognised countries are UK, Europe, US, Australia, Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Isreal, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea or Taiwan. Any traveler coming from any other country not on the recognised list would be considered ‘unvaccinated’ whether or not the person has been fully vaccinated and would be required to quarantine for 10 days and take COVID-19 tests on day two and eight after arriving the UK.

According to the website, “From 4am, Monday, October 4, 2021, the rules for international travel to England will change from the red, amber, green traffic light system to  a single red list of countries and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world. The rules for travel from countries and terrorists not on red list will depend on your vaccination status.

“From 4am, Monday, October 4, if you have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days under an approved programme in the UK, Europe, US or UK vaccine programme overseas with a full course of the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines form a relevant public health body in Australia, Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Isreal, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea or Taiwan, under a formally approved COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial in the US, Canada and Australia and have proof of participation (digital or paper based) from a public health body, you must book and pay for a day two COVID-19 test to be taken after arrival in England.

“You do not need to take a pre-departure test, take a day eight COVID-19 test, quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days after you arrive in England. You must be able to prove that you have been fully vaccinated with a document from a public health body.

“If you are fully vaccinated but do not qualify under these fully vaccinated rules, you must follow the unvaccinated rules by taking a pre-departure COVID-19 test three days before you travel to England, book and pay for a day two and day eight covid test to be taken after arrival in England. On arrival in England, you must quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days.”

It is understood that some of the affected countries like Brazil, Rwanda, Turkey, India and South Africa are not happy with this decision and have said the UK was yet to explain why people who were vaccinated in the ‘unrecognised’ countries would be considered ‘unvaccinated’ especially as the UK government is one of the main contributors of most of the vaccines to the African continent through the COVAX initiative.

Some aviation analyst have said the UK may have revised its travel policy because they do not have confidence in the documents proving that a person has been vaccinated as such documents could easily be obtained by non-vaccinated people.

But an informed source within the travel industry told Daily Sun that the reason for UK’s decision may be based on the type of vaccine that was given.

“UK took the Pfizer vaccines but other countries took the other ones. So, any country that did not take vaccine may quarantine on arrival. The AstraZeneca we took is produced in India while the UAE took vaccine from China. Nigeria is using QR code, which means they can trace the batch of the vaccine taken,” the source said.

Reacting to the new policy, travel and tourism operator, Mr. Ikechi Uko, said: “First, NCDC and the presidential committee on COVID-19 should comment on the issue because we do not know the efficacy of the vaccine. They should be in the best position to decide on what to do.”

National President of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Susan Akporiaye, flayed the policy as discriminatory and called on the United Nations and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to call the UK to order.

“The decision is not the best because we got the vaccine from them. I don’t understand the vaccine they are rejecting but these vaccines are approved by WHO and all vaccines approved by WHO are acceptable. So, if it is good that UK took the vaccine, why is it bad that we also took the same vaccine?

“I am sure they will rescind the decision soon because as far as WHO approved the vaccine, nobody should reject it. Those who advised the country were wrong but that decision will change very soon. We should not worry about it because they are not targeting Nigeria. I think WHO and the United Nations should call them to order. What they are doing is wrong, discriminating against drugs that have been approved by WHO,” Akporiaye said.



NCAA Directs Airlines to Board Passengers Without Evidence of COVID-19 Test Payment

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has given permission to airlines operating international service to Nigerian destinations to allow passengers travelling to the country,who were unable to show evidence of payment for day-7 COVID-19 PCR test or generate paid QR code or permit to fly, to board their flights.

The order was however hinged on the difficulties being experienced by travellers to Nigeria in trying to fill their health and travel history into the Nigeria International Travel Portal (NITP).

The permission was granted in a letter with Ref: NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/317 to airlines’ Accountable and Country Managers, signed by the Director General of NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu and dated 11th September 2021.

According to the letter, the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has been made aware of the challenges being faced by passengers to access the Nigerian Health Portal.

The Director General said such passengers would be required to make payment for the repeated day-7 COVID-19 test at their destination airport in Nigeria.

The letter also stated that holders of diplomatic passports and children aged 10 years and below, who were unable to complete the NITP were to be allowed to board their flights, adding that, their health declaration and travel history would be captured by the Port Health Services at the destination airport.

He said airlines were to bring this information to the knowledge of their passengers and ensure strict compliance with the above stated conditions.

Relevant government agencies were notified of the new directive.

The letter stated: “The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has been made aware of challenges some travellers to Nigeria are experiencing while trying to fill their health and travel history into the Nigerian Travel International Portal (NITP).

“Airlines are hereby permitted to board any traveler to Nigeria, who is unable to either pay for the repeat day-7 COVID-19 PCR test or generate the paid QR code/permit to fly. Such passengers will be required to make payment for the repeat day-7 COVID-19 test at their destination airport in Nigeria.

“Holders of diplomatic passports and children ages 10 years and below who are unable to complete the NITP are to be allowed to board the flight. Their health declaration and travel history will be captured by the Port Health Services (PHS) at the destination point,” the letter directed.



UAE Excludes Nigeria from Countries to Benefit from Visa-on-Arrival Policy

Nigeria has been excluded from a list of countries whose citizens are eligible to apply for visa-on-arrival in the United Arab Emirates.

According to reports, the Etihad Airways has released a list of countries whose travellers landing at Abu Dhabi airport could receive visas from its immigration desks and Nigeria was missing.

The list of about 70 countries whose citizens are eligible for visa-on-arrival at the UAE included; Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hong Kong (SAR of China), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, People’s Republic of China, Peru.

Others are: Poland, Republic of Mauritius, Republic of El Salvador, Portugal, Romania, Russian, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Vatican, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America and Uruguay.

The report also showed that visitors who had been in Nigeria or South Africa in the preceding 14 days before travel would not be allowed to enter the UAE.

Nigeria had for some months now being on the spot as at different times the UAE had placed a ban on travelling from the country.

In June, the UAE had suspended flights to and from Lagos and Abuja. Emirati authorities also prohibited their nationals from visiting Nigeria and some other countries as the country controls exposure to COVID-19.



Buhari Returns from UK Today ,Asiwaju Tinubu Recuperating

President Muhammadu Buhari is expected back in Abuja, the Nigerian capital on Friday (today).

He is due to land at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja by 5pm after a two-week visit to the United Kingdom during which he attended an international summit on education and saw his private doctors for routine medical check up.

According to a police wireless message dispatched Thursday, all Sector Commanders and Divisional Police Officers at the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT) Command were directed to mobilise adequately inward Abuja.

It stated: “Mr President will be arriving Abuja from his trip outside the country tomorrow (Friday), the 12/08/2021 by 1700hrs.
“Compol (Commissioner of Police) directs all Sector Commanders and DPOs to deploy adequately inward Abuja. Time in position, 1530hrs”.
President Buhari had left Nigeria for the United Kingdom on July 26 to participate in the Global Education Summit on Financing Global Partnership for Education (GPE) 2021-2025.
The President also spent few days for his medical check-up.

On Thursday, Buhari paid a visit to former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is said to be recuperating in the United Kingdom.

Details later…



BREAKING: Buhari departs to London for medical check-up, summit

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), will leave Abuja today for London to see his doctors and participate in the Global Education Summit on Financing Global Partnership for Education 2021-2025.

This was contained in a statement by the president’s media adviser, Femi Adesina, titled, ‘President Buhari attends global education summit in London’, on Monday.

According to the statement, the president is expected to return to Nigeria by the second week of August 2021.

The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari will today Monday July 26, 2021, travel to the United Kingdom to participate in the Global Education Summit on Financing Global Partnership for Education (GPE) 2021-2025.

“The Summit, which will be co-hosted by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, and the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, will bring together Heads of State and Government as well as stakeholders and youth leaders, and provide a platform for partners to chart a way forward towards transforming education systems in partner countries, through exchange of best practices.

“It will also offer the opportunity for leaders to make 5-year pledges to support GPE’s work to help transform education systems in up to 90 countries and territories.

“Deliberations at the Summit will focus on: The Power of Education –A Conversation between Global Champions; Transforming Education for Girls; Financing for Impact and Recovery and; What Now? Priorities for Transforming Education in the Coming Five Years, among others.

“President Buhari will also hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
After the Summit, the President will spend a few days for an earlier scheduled medical check-up. He is due back by second week of August, 2021.

“The President will be accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of State Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) and Director General of National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.”



Electoral Act:: Group Writes US, Demands Visa Ban on 80 Senators

A group, Democracy Vanguard of Nigeria in Diaspora (DVND) has written a letter to the United States of America through its Nigerian Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, demanding a visa ban on all the senators who voted against the electronic transmission of election results in Nigeria.

The group in a statement issued Tuesday by its President, Timothy Sule, described the action as shameful, disdainful, and completely reprehensible, saying it smacks of a clear contempt for the Nigerian People.

It therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari to withhold assent on any Electoral Act bill that failed to incorporate electronic voting, order of elections to start with Governorship and State Assemblies and then Presidential and National Assemblies.

It stated: “We call on the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada, African Union and all ally countries to take urgent actions to nip this brewing conflagration in the bud before it consumes the nation and creates a massive refugee crisis in the world.

“In the meantime, we have attached names of all those legislators who played one role or the other in the suppression and undermining democracy in Nigeria for a visa ban. Their family members shall not be spared of the impending visa ban as well.

“This noble intention was vehemently and vigorously challenged by some legislators from a particular zone and political party. These unpatriotic elements eventually succeeded in throwing out such a noble intention into the abyss.”

The group therefore commended a few progressive opposition legislators in the Senate and the House of Representatives led by Senator Ehinanya Abaribe and Ndidi Elumelu respectively who stood for Nigeria when the occasion demanded.

It noted that those who exempted themselves from the chambers without a valid reason are equally reprimanded and condemned, adding that while those who were conspicuously absent are no better than those who shot the amendment down with their selfish and insensitive agenda.



US Visa lottery: US mission warns of fake websites, messages

The US Mission in Nigeria has warned the public of fake websites and messages advertising US Visa lottery.

One of such messages spreading on Whatsapp said, “Take the chance of living in the USA and apply for the official US Green Card Lottery.

“The Green Card unlocks the door to the United States for thousands of USA fans every year. It allows the lucky Green Card winners permanent residence as well as an unlimited work permit for the USA.

“Every year, the United States grants 55,000 Green Cards through the Green Card Lottery!”

Describing the message and others as fake, the US Mission in Nigeria stated that information on the visa lottery can only be found on websites it shared on Twitter.

“The US Mission to Nigeria is aware of websites and messages advertising the U.S. visa lottery. All of these sites are FAKE!” the US Mission tweeted.

“Addresses that have a .gov are the only accurate source of visa information,” the tweet added.



Immigration service postpones new passport application by one week

The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, has announced the postponement of new passport applications, which was earlier slated to commence on June 1 2020, by one week.

The new date will now be June 8, 2021.

According to a statement on Tuesday by the Service’s Public Relations Officer, Amos Okpu, titled ‘Clearance of backlog of passport applications,’ Babandede was quoted as making the announcement at the NIS headquarters in Abuja during a media chat.

The statement read in part, “A huge number of applicants are already turning up to collect their passports across issuing centres and this is causing some forms of congestion.

“This situation will not allow the Service to accommodate new applications especially considering our desire to ensure that people who come to our offices comply with all the COVID-19 protocols.

“Consequent upon the above, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has extended the commencement of the new passport regime earlier scheduled for June 1, 2021 by one week till June 8, 2021.

“The period shall be used to attend to applicants for collection, clear all the remaining backlogs as well as improve systems automation for the takeoff of the new passport regime effective 8th June 2021.

“The Comptroller General of Immigration assures all of full commitment to improved service delivery to all passport applicants and others.”

Recall that the NIS announced on May 17, 2021, that it was halting applications and processing of new passports until May 31, 2021.

The move was to allow for the clearance of backlog from all local and foreign passport applications received before May 17, 2021.

Babandede also revealed that a total of 230,500 applications have been cleared and the passports produced.

Out of this, a total number of 43,350 are yet to be collected.

He said, “Passport Control Officers have been directed to continue to send out short message notifications for collection to all applicants who indicated functional contact details/numbers in their applications while efforts have been intensified to clear up the remaining applications in some Centres.”

He added that to ensure that applicants are duly notified and encouraged to collect their Passports, the NIS will upload the details of all Passports that are yet to be collected on its website for the attention of the public.

He, therefore, assured Nigerians that the Service is also deploying other media means to notify the public about this development.



House Directs Immigration to Issue Passport to Nigerians within 72hrs

The House of Representatives has directed the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to issue international passports within 72 hours to thousands of Nigerians who have applied, paid, and have been captured but are yet to be issued their international passport booklets.

It also urged the Ministry of Interior and the NIS to review its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company and IRIS Smart Technologies Limited in order to boost capacity and development of more passport booklet production lines.

The House said that this would ensure better service delivery that would enable Nigerians to get their international passports within 24 hours.

The directive followed the adoption of a motion moved at the plenary yesterday by Hon. Ugonna Ozurigbo.

Ozurigbo said while moving the motion that the Ministry of Interior, through the NIS, is responsible for the issue and re-issue of Nigerian international passport to citizens and liaises with the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Plc and IRIS Smart Technologies Limited for the production of passport booklets and allied services.

The lawmaker decried the persistent scarcity of the passport booklets at most offices of the NIS and some of the nation’s foreign embassies.

He expressed concern that most Nigerians who have applied for international passports and fulfilled all the requirements are constrained to wait endlessly for their international passports, which ordinarily should take less than 48 hours to be issued.

The situation, he said, has been causing untold hardship on Nigerians with urgent needs to travel out of the country.

The lawmaker added that Nigerians who are on medical referrals outside the country are developing needless health complications while waiting for their passports to be issued while those for urgent business trips, conferences, etc. have missed rewarding business opportunities due to the unavailability of passport booklets to enable them to travel.

Ozurigbo lamented that Nigerians in the diaspora are experiencing undue delays due to the scarcity and the situation is fast breeding a class of passport racketeers who extort innocent citizens with the promise to assist them to secure international passports on time.

He stressed that access to international passport was one of the rights enjoyed by citizens all over the world.

The lawmaker said that international passports could be obtained with ease with immediate issuance upon completion of application.

The House resolved that “the NIS shall within 72 hours, issue international passports to thousands of Nigerians who have applied, paid, and have been captured but are yet to be issued their international passport booklets.”