CAN faults US for delisting Nigeria from religious freedom violators watchlist

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The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has faulted the Government of the United States of America for delisting Nigeria from its watchlist for violators of religious freedoms.

CAN said that whatever data the US government used to arrive at its decision, it must be made to realise that Christians are still facing ferocious attack and nothing has changed between 2020 and 2021 to warrant the removal of Nigeria from the list.

Recall that the office of the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on Wednesday released a statement with an adjusted list of nations deemed to be violating religious freedoms.

Although Russia, China and eight other countries were named in the list, Nigeria was missing on it.

Hours after the list was published, Blinken visited Nigeria on a two-day official visit that ended on Friday.

He said in Abuja that the decision to delist Nigeria from ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ on religious freedom issues was based on facts.

However, CAN said in a Saturday statement that it disagreed with the US government’s position.

, “The US government did not contact us when they were listing Nigeria among the countries of ‘Particular Concern’ on religious freedom, neither did they seek our opinion before removing Nigeria from the list. If they had done, we would have been able to compare the statistics then and now on the issue of freedom of religion in Nigeria.

“Whatever may be the data they used, our prayer is that Nigeria would be a country where no religious group is discriminated against or persecuted and that our government would see to it that all religiously biased policies are discontinued with.

“Christians had faced and are still facing persecution from ISWAP and the Boko Haram Islamic Group till today as before. These are the people who said their agenda was to wipe away Christianity from Nigeria and to plant Islam as the only religion from the North down to the Atlantic Ocean in the South. That agenda with the killing of Christians has not stopped till today and Nigerians are living witnesses.

“The bandits have joined other militant Islamic groups to be ferociously attacking churches, killing worshippers and kidnapping for ransom. The herdsmen are equally doing their havoc. We have lost many people and places of worship to their assault, especially in the Northcentral part of the country and the Northeast.

“Though the madness has grown now and those who are not Christians are being attacked, killed and kidnapped, this is because these criminal acts have become a lucrative business and it is whoever you can kidnap for money! If the government had responded appropriately when this criminal madness began and subdued these evil groups immediately, we wouldn’t be where we are now!” the apex Christian body in Nigeria stated.

CAN said that Christians continued to be subjected to discrimination, especially in Northern Nigeria.

“Up till today, our government is still funding the membership of Nigeria in all the International Islamic organisations like OIC and its allies without being part of any international Christian organization.

“Once again, we urge the US government to help us by allowing us to know what has changed between the time our country was put in the list of ‘countries of particular concern’ and now,” CAN’s statement further read.

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