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FG reacts to inclusion of Nigeria on religious freedom blacklist by United States

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The Federal Government has reacted to the designation of Nigeria as a country of concern on religious freedom by the United States Government.

The government said that Nigeria will vigorously engage the US government to remove its name from its blacklist of countries over concern on religious freedom.

The government’s reaction is contained in a press statement which was issued by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, and signed by the ministry’s spokesman, Ferdinand Nwonye.

While expressing its displeasure to the US government on this development, the Nigerian government said that it remained committed to ensuring respect and protection of all citizens’ rights to religious freedom and promotion of religious tolerance and harmony.

The statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry reads, “The attention of the ministry has been drawn to an announcement made by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, stating that the government of the United States of America has designated Nigeria as a ‘country of concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998’.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria received the news with surprise, that a secular country under a democratic government will be so designated. Although the Nigerian state is multi-religious and multi-ethnic, the Nigerian constitution expressly states that the government shall not adopt any religion as state religion.

“Furthermore, section 38 of the constitution guarantees that every Nigerian citizen is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion including freedom to change his/her religion or belief. And freedom to manifest and propagate his/her religion or belief. Religious liberty in Nigeria has never been in question, therefore any claim contrary to that is completely false and untrue.

“The ministry wishes to assure that the Nigerian government will engage the U.S government to express its displeasure and request that Nigeria be removed from the list.”

By Chike Olisah