The federal government has reacted to United State government’s addition of Nigeria to a list of countries that violate religious freedom.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated the US ally as a “Country of Particular Concern” for religious freedom, alongside nations that include China, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Pompeo did not elaborate on the reasons for including Nigeria, which has a delicate balance between Muslims and Christians.
But US law requires such designations for nations that either engage in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.”
Pompeo notably did not include India, which has a growing relationship with Washington, and was infuriated by a recommendation from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom to include the secular but Hindu-majority nation over what it called a sharp downward turn under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Other nations on the blacklist are Eritrea, Myanmar, North Korea, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
However reacting to this, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed insisted that Nigeria does not have a policy of religious persecution.
He described the allegation as a case of honest disagreement between the two nations on the causes of violence in Nigeria, and also argued that Nigeria jealously protects religious freedom as enshrined in the country’s constitution and takes seriously any infringements in this regard.
”Nigeria does not engage in religious freedom violation, neither does it have a policy of religious persecution. Victims of insecurity and terrorism in the country are adherents of Christianity, Islam and other religions.”