BARELY 72 hours after the United States Government included Nigeria in its Severe Watch List (SWL) of religion intolerant nations, the Federal Government on Sunday responded, describing the name tag as ‘wicked’.
Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture rejected the labeling and challenged the US government to avoid the creation of religious mistrust among citizens of his country.
He insisted that Boko Haram insurgents are non-Muslims and extreme fanatics who do not subscribe to doctrines of any religion.
On Friday, Nigeria made the US SWL over severe violations of religious freedom.
According to him, opposition parties had misled the US government through several false claims to announce Nigeria among the controversial list.
“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,” Mohammed said in a statement issued by Segun Adeyemi, Special Assistant to the President on Media.
The federal government insisted it has won the battle on farmers/herders clashes while the detention of El-Zakzacky, leader of the Shi’ites group is purely a criminal offense that is being tried in a competent court.
“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 pretense to Islamic adherence.”
However, Mohammed noted how much the country embraces several religions, saying “the iniquitous tag stems from an orchestrated narrative has long been discredited.
“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.”