Nigerian government says the country’s laws and policies do not support any form of religious laws or persecution.
The Minister of Information and Culture stated this in an interview with VON in London on Monday, on the sidelines of his annual international media tour and think-Tank engagements.
The Minister submission was against the backdrop of a letter written by five U.S Republican senators to Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, urging the U.S government to relist Nigeria in the list of countries where Christians are facing religious persecution.
The Nigerian authorities however condemned the call by five US Republican Lawmakers asking for the re-designation of Nigeria as a country of particular concern because of alleged persecution of Christians.
“You will recall that only few months ago Nigeria was taken out of the list of countries of particular concern because it was proven that here is no iota of true in the allegation that Christians or any religion was being persecuted or people were not allowed to practice religion of their choice.
We want to say once again that Nigeria does not have a policy that denies people the freedom to practice their religion
The country also does not have a policy of violation freedom of religion and it is not true that Nigeria persecute anybody on account of his or her faith,” he said.
The Information and Culture Minister noted that the Constitution of Nigeria guarantees the right of anybody to practice his or her own faith without molestation and the government has always safeguard the constitutional provision jealously.
He then submitted that most commentators who were not well versed in the politics and happenings in Nigeria took criminalities and communal clashes as issues of religious persecution.
“Nobody in Nigeria is being persecuted but we have issues of criminality going on and the criminals really do not make distinction of any religion.
“They kidnap for money, they hold people on ransom irrespective of their religion and there are some issues pf communal matters dating back to many years.
“If statistic is to be taken, I can say confidently that as many Muslims as Christians have been victims of these criminals,” he said.
According to the minister, the only known group that target Christians was the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (SWAP)
He, however said that the federal government had mounted a ;large scale military operations to wipe out the criminals and it is yielding results.
“What ISWAP is doing is that because of their dwindling influence hence are now attacking Churches and Christians in order to create crisis between various religious groups.
“But as a government, we are after them,” he said.
The minister said some NGOs were also feeding the international community with wrong information to get funds from donors.
Mohammed reiterated that the two major religions in Nigeria, Islam and Christianity are also collaborating to find solution to the crisis and bring about peace and harmony.
He gave the example of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) which is working to foster unity and better understanding between the Christian and Islamic faiths.
The minister solicited support from multilateral organisations and foreign countries in tackling the challenges of insecurity in Nigeria.