Nigeria’s federal government has said religious liberty in the country has never been in doubt and was surprised that the United States could designate the country as one of those promoting religious intolerance.
Reacting to the designation of Nigeria by the American government as a country of concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the Nigerian government said on Tuesday that the nation remains multi-religious and multi-ethnic, as defined by its constitution.
A statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said it’s attention has been drawn to an announcement made by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo stating that the Government of the United States of America has designated Nigeria as a ‘country of concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998’.
The statement added that: “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 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.
“Religious liberty in Nigeria has never been in question, therefore any claim contrary to that is completely false and untrue.”
It further said: “The Nigerian Government remains committed to ensuring the respect and protection of all citizens’ right to religious freedom and promotion of religious tolerance and harmony.”
The Ministry, in the statement signed by its spokesman, Ferdinand Nwonye, said. “It wishes to assure that the Nigerian Government will engage the US Government to express its displeasure and request that Nigeria be removed from the list.”