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Buhari’s Government Reacts After U.S. Senators Wrote President Biden To Lament Killing Of Christians In Nigeria




SaharaReporters had reported that Republican Senators, Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley wrote to President Joe Biden to redesignate Nigeria as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ over increasing cases of violence against Christians in the country.

It reported that the letter was signed by another three senators, Mike Braun, Tom Cotton and Jim Inhofe.

In the letter to the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, the senators urged President Biden to immediately reinstate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act.

But reacting to the allegation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in London, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the call was based on a false premise and misunderstanding of what was going on in the country.

Mohammed, who is in London to engage international media and some non-governmental organisations, said it was only the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) that is targeting and killing Christians in Nigeria.

He 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 practise the religion of their choice.

“We want to say once again that Nigeria does not have a policy that denies people the freedom to practise 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.

The minister said contrary to the report, Christians in Nigeria like any other religion are practising their faith as the Constitution stipulates and the government has always safeguarded the constitutional provision jealously.

He argued that most commentators who don’t understand 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,” he said.

He said that ISWAP is attacking Christians and churches to create a religious crisis, saying the government has mounted large-scale military operations to wipe them out.
According to him, the onslaught is yielding results.

“What ISWAP is doing is that because of their dwindling influence, they are now attacking churches and Christians in order to create a crisis between various religious groups.

“But as a government, we are after them,” he said.

The minister said some 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, are also collaborating to find a solution to the crisis.

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

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