The Federal Government yesterday condemned the call by five US Republican senators asking for re-designation of Nigeria as a country of particular concern because of alleged persecution of Christians.
The senators, who made the call in a letter to the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, also alleged violation of freedom of Christians’ rights to practise their religion.
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Responding to the allegation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in London, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the call was based on false premise and misunderstanding of what was going on in Nigeria.
NAN reports the minister is in London for engagements with international media as well as some relevant non-governmental-organisations.
“You’ll recall that only few months ago Nigeria was taken out of the list of countries of particular concern because it was proven that here is no iota of true in the allegation that Christians or any religion was being persecuted or people were not allowed to practice 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
“The country also does not have a policy of violation freedom of religion and it’s not true that Nigeria persecute anybody on account of his or her faith.
“Nobody in Nigeria is being persecuted, but we have issues of criminality going on and the criminals really do not make distinction of any religion.
“They kidnap for money, they hold people on ransom irrespective of their religion and there are some issues pf communal matters dating back to many years.
“If statistics is to be taken, I can say confidently that as many Muslims as Christians have been victims of these criminals,” he said.
According to the minister, the only known group that targets Christians is the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (SWAP)
He, however, said the Federal Government had mounted a large scale military operations to wipe out the criminals and it was yielding results.
“What ISWAP is doing is that because of their dwindling influence they are now attacking Churches and Christians in order to create crisis between various religious groups.
“But as a government, we’re after them,” he said. (NAN)