Following a call by five United States senators for the re-inclusion of Nigeria among religious intolerant countries, the Federal Government says the letter is based on a misunderstanding of what is happening in the country,
Truthlive.net had reported that in a letter co-signed by five US Republican Senators and addressed to the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, they called for the re-designation of Nigeria as a country of particular concern over alleged persecution of Christians in the country.
The Senators in their letter alleged violation of freedom of Christians’ rights to practice their religion in Nigeria.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed while reacting to the development in an interview with NAN in London said, “the call was based on false premise and misunderstanding of what was going on in the country.”
It was gathered that the minister is in London for engagements with international media as well as some relevant Non-Governmental-Organisations.
Mohammed said, “You will recall that only a few months ago Nigeria was taken out of the list of countries of particular concern because it was proven that there is no iota of truth in the allegation that Christians or any religion was being persecuted or people were not allowed to practice the religion of their choice,
‘We want to say once again that Nigeria does not have a policy that denies people the freedom to practice their religion
According to him, “The country also does not have a policy of violation freedom of religion and it is not true that Nigeria persecutes anybody on account of his or her faith.”
Further, he noted that “the Constitution of Nigeria guarantees the right of anybody to practice his or her own faith without molestation and the government has always safeguarded the constitutional provision jealously.”
Mohammed said, “most commentators who were not well versed in the politics and happenings in Nigeria took criminalities and communal clashes as issues of religious persecution.”
“Nobody in Nigeria is being persecuted but we have issues of criminality going on and the criminals really do not make the distinction of any religion.
“They kidnap for money, they hold people on ransom irrespective of their religion and there are some issues of communal matters dating back to many years.
“If the statistic is to be taken, I can say confidently that as many Muslims as Christians have been victims of these criminals.”
However, he pointed out that the only known group that targets Christians was the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP).
The minister assured that the federal government had mounted large-scale military operations to wipe out the criminals and it is yielding results.
“What ISWAP is doing is that because of their dwindling influence they are now attacking Churches and Christians n order to create a crisis between the various religious groups, but as a government, we are after them,” he added.
The minister said some NGOs were also feeding the international community with wrong information to get funds from donors.
Also, he said two major religions in Nigeria, Islam and Christianity are also collaborating to find a solution to the crisis ad bring peace and harmony between the two main religions in the nation.
Citing the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), the minister pointed out that the group is working to foster unity and better understanding between the Christian and Islamic faiths in the country.
The information minister called for the support of multilateral organizations and foreign countries in tackling the challenges of insecurity facing Nigeria.