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FG Rejects Religious Freedom Violation Tag, Says It Feeds On Discredited Narrative

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The Federal Government has rejected the US designation of Nigeria as a
country that engages in or tolerates severe violations of religious
freedom, saying the iniquitous tag stems from an orchestrated
narrative that has long been discredited

In a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday, the Minister of Information
and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the good people of Nigeria
enjoy unfettered freedom to practise their religion, and blamed failed
politicians and disgruntled elements – some of them
supposedly-respected leaders –  for latching on to religion as their
trump card, especially in the run up to the last general elections, to
oust the Buhari Administration.

He said it is unfortunate that the US fell for the antics of the
discontented and the unpatriotic few, who will not hesitate to hang
Nigeria out to dry on the altar of their inordinate ambition and their
sheer animosity towards the Administration.

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The Minister said the Nigerian government is acutely aware of how the
political opposition, in particular, had spared no resources in
deriving political capital from the various security challenges in the
country

”The deliberate effort to give religious coloration to the
farmers-herders clashes and the Boko Haram insurgency, in particular,
has undoubtedly helped to mislead the US into concluding that the
government is doing little or nothing to guarantee religious freedom
in the country.

”But, as we have always said, the farmers-herders clashes have
nothing to do with religion but everything to do with environmental
and socio-economic realities. The religious tag given to the clashes
has no basis in fact, but is very convenient for those who will very
easily give the dog a bad name just to hang it. 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,” he said.

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Alhaji Mohammed said the good news is that the government has
succeeded in curbing the farmers-herders clashes through the
implementation of proactive and multi-dimensional strategy, which is
yielding remarkable results, just as it has largely defeated the Boko
Haram insurgency.

On the El-Zakzaky issue, which was referred to in the report by the US
government, he described it is purely a criminal matter, which is
being handled by a court of competent jurisdiction.

The Minister said while the government welcomes constructive criticism
from any quarter, it rejects any attempt to sow the seed of mistrust
among the various religious groups in the country.

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