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Nigeria to engage US on religious freedom violations —Foreign ministry

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Geoffrey Onyeama

The Federal Government is to engage the United States with a view to removing Nigeria from the list of countries with a high rate of religious freedom violations, according to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Nigerian government had, on Tuesday, December 8, taken an exception at the announcement by the U.S. that the country had continuously violated the religious freedom of its citizens.

In the statement signed by the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwonye on Tuesday, the FG said the Nigerian government remained committed to ensuring respect and protection of all citizens’ right to religious freedom and promotion of religious tolerance and harmony.

The statement 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.

Read Also: US includes Nigeria in religious freedom blacklist

“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 the 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.”

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