Religious rights violations: CAN, SOKAPU back the US, FG disagrees


The Federal Government on Tuesday portrayed as false the charge by the United States that Nigeria was engaging in systematic religious freedom violations

The allegation was said to have led to the country being placed on a religious freedom blacklist.
However, the public authority portrayed the charge as “an instance of legit difference between the two countries on the reasons for brutality in Nigeria.”

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the denial in a statement titled, ‘Nigeria denies religious freedom violation allegation,’ on Tuesday.

He said, “Nigeria does not engage in religious freedom violation, neither does it have a policy of religious persecution. Victims of insecurity and terrorism in the country are adherents of Christianity, Islam and other religions.

Nigeria jealously protects religious freedom as enshrined in the country’s constitution and takes seriously any infringements in this regard.”

Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria on Tuesday expressed fears over that the blacklisting might attract sanctions.

The Special Assistant, Media and Communications, to the CAN President, Adebayo Oladeji, said this.

He said, “The leadership of CAN is not happy that the US has placed Nigeria on a religious freedom blacklist because of the implications which include possible sanctions if it does not improve its record.

But at the same time, we are encouraged that the global world is aware of what is happening in the country. Although there is religious freedom in the country, there are a lot of religious persecutions in most of the states of the federation, especially in the Northern part of the country.”

“For example, many States like Kano and Jigawa are denying Christians the Certificate of Occupancy, churches are not allowed to purchase lands and they have to be going through individuals to buy lands and even if that is done, they will be denied of the COFO.”

The special assistant, who labelled the “discriminatory policies” as religious persecutions, added that mosques were built wherever they desire and no government dared to ask for any document.

“In Education, Christians are not allowed to study courses like Medicine and Law in some universities in the North. Most of the federal owned universities in the North, will not allow Christians to become the Vice Chancellor even if they are qualified.

A good example is University of Ilorin where in the last 25 years or more, no Christian has been allowed to be its Vice Chancellor.

About 95 per cent of those who head our security agencies are sharing same faith with the President. In some agencies, Christians are replaced with Muslims. This is what we witness every day.

“The country belongs to every citizen irrespective of their religious affiliations but the government is not interested.”

Similarly, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union on Tuesday said the blacklist by the US was too liberal.

The National Public Relations Officer of SOKAPU, Mr Luka Binniyat, who spoke with our correspondents, said, “Southern Kaduna, which is predominantly Christan, would have welcomed outright sanctions slammed against individuals in the Buhari government that have become notorious in their intolerance, hate and justification of violence against Christains communities in Nigeria.”

Also, the Middle Belt Forum commended the US for the move, noting that the decision was long overdue.

The National President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bitrus Porgu told our correspondent in Jos on Tuesday that the US would not take such a critical decision without a valid intelligence report.


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