from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – NIGERIA has rebuked its designation by the United States (US) for alleged violations of religious rights.
The designation follows religious tensions in Africa’s biggest country by population.
The country of an estimated 200 million people is suffering from some conflicts that have assumed religious dimensions.
These include the insurgency by the Islamist Boko Haram sect and bloodshed over resources, blamed on the mostly Muslim livestock herders against largely Christian farmers.
US designated Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern that engages in or tolerates severe violations of religious freedom.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria Minister of Information and Culture, accused the government of Donald Trump of fuelling mistrust among religious groups in the West African country.
Mohammed argued opposition politicians had misled the US through efforts to give religious connotations to the farmers-herders clashes and the Boko Haram insurgency.
“The religious tag given to the clashes has no basis in fact, but it is very convenient for those who will very easily give the dog a bad name just to hang it,” the minister stated.
He argued the farmers-herders clashes were not inspired by religion but environmental and socio-economic realities.
“On its part, the Boko Haram terrorists are extreme fanatics who do not subscribe to the tenets of any religion, in spite of their pretence to Islamic adherence,” Mohammed added.
A local human rights organisation however welcomed the classification of Nigeria by the US.
“We plead with the US government to impose sanctions on the federal government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari,” Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria stated.
– CAJ News