The Nigerian government on Sunday said it rejects the United States’ (US) designation of the country as one that perpetrates severe violations of religious freedom, alleging that the US trying to create mistrust among the various religious groups in Nigeria.
This was a reaction to US’ inclusion of Nigeria among countries it accused of stifling religious liberty last week.
In a statement issued in Abuja and made available to judicialsketch.com, minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed said Nigerians enjoys unfettered freedom to practice their religions.
He added that it was unfortunate that the U.S. fell for the antics of “the discontented and the unpatriotic few, who will not hesitate to hang Nigeria out to dry on the altar of their inordinate ambition and their sheer animosity towards the Buhari-led administration.”
He said: “The deliberate effort to give religious coloration to the farmers-herders clashes and the Boko Haram insurgency, in particular, has undoubtedly helped to mislead the U.S. into concluding that the government is doing little or nothing to guarantee religious freedom in the country.
“But, as we have always said, the farmers-herders clashes have nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with environmental and socio-economic realities. The religious tag given to the clashes has no basis in fact, but it is very convenient for those who will very easily give the dog a bad name just to hang it.
“On its part, the Boko Haram terrorists are extreme fanatics who do not subscribe to the tenets of any religion, in spite of their pretence to Islamic adherence.”
He also said: “On the El-Zakzaky issue, which was referred to in the report by the U.S. government, it is purely a criminal matter, which is being handled by a court of competent jurisdiction.”