Nigeria Govt to engage US over blacklist

The Federal Government has said it would engage the United States for the delisting of Nigeria from the religious freedom blacklist.

It also refuted accusations by the US that it was suppressing religious freedom in Nigeria.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement on Tuesday, by its spokesman, Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, said the engagement would afford Nigeria the opportunity to demand the country’s removal from the blacklist, as well as express its displeasure at the nation’s inclusion on the list.

The statement was in reaction to Monday’s decision by the US to add Nigeria to a religious freedom blacklist, which contains countries with severe religious violations.

But the Federal Government said Nigeria’s religious liberty had never been in doubt.

The statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “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.

“Furthermore, section 38 of the Constitution [as amended] 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.”

It reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to ensuring the respect and protection of citizens’ right to religious freedom as well as the promotion of religious tolerance. Punch


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