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Remove Nigeria from ‘religious freedom violations’ list, FG warns U.S.

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The Federal government has requested that the United States government should delist Nigeria as one of the countries on ‘’religious freedom violations.’’

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement on Tuesday, December 8, said this while reacting to the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who earlier stated 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’.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced this via Twitter on Monday, December 7, saying the country will continue to act when “religious freedom is attacked.”

China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Eritrea were also added to the list of the annual designations.

Pompeo did not state why Nigeria was blacklisted but said “no country or entity should be allowed to persecute people with impunity because of their beliefs”.

But in a statement signed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Ferdinand Nwonye, stated,

‘’ The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 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 would 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.

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‘’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 Nigerian Government remains committed to ensuring the respect and protection of all citizens’ right to religious freedom and promotion of religious tolerance and harmony.

‘’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.’’

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