Christians are not persecuted in Nigeria, FG replies US senators

Christians are not persecuted in Nigeria, FG replies US senators

July 4, 2022

THE Federal Government has said there is no truth in allegations that Christians are being persecuted in Nigeria.

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said this in response to the call by five United States (US) Republican Senators on the President Joe Biden administration to designate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) because of alleged persecution of Christians.

The senators had in a letter to the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, also alleged violation of freedom of Christians’ rights to practice their religion in Nigeria.

However, reacting to the development on Monday, Mohammed said that the call was based on a false premise and misunderstanding of what was going on in Nigeria.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the minister said 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 of freedom of religion and it is not true that Nigeria persecutes anybody on account of his or her faith,” he said.

Mohammed noted that the Constitution of Nigeria guarantees the right to freedom of worship without molestation, adding that the government has always safeguarded the constitutional provision jealously.

He 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 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 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 (ISWAP).

He, however, said that the Federal Government had mounted a large-scale military operation to wipe out the criminals and it was yielding results.

The minister alleged that some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were also feeding the international community with wrong information to get funds from donors.

Mohammed reiterated that the two major religions in Nigeria, Islam and Christianity, were also collaborating to find a solution to the crisis and bring peace and harmony.

He gave the example of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, which is working to foster unity and better understanding between the Christian and Islamic faiths.

The minister solicited support from multilateral organisations and foreign countries in tackling the challenges of insecurity confronting the country.