The Federal Government on Monday condemned the call by five US Republican Senators asking for the redesignation of Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern because of the alleged persecution of Christians.
Religion Nigeria had reported that over 40 Catholics were killed in a church in Owo, Ondo State, last month, while scores of priests had been kidnapped whilst some had been killed in the last few months.
The US Senators, in a letter to the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, had alleged violation of Christians’ rights to practice their religion.
Responding to the allegations 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 a false premise and misunderstanding of what was going on in the country.
The minister was reportedly in London to engage with international media as well as some relevant Non-Governmental-Organisations.
“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
“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,” Mohammed said.
The minister also 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.
“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,” he said.