The Presidency said on Sunday the United States government’s decision to place Nigeria on its Special Watch List does not make Nigeria a source of concern on religious freedom.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who disclosed this in a chat with journalists, said Nigeria and the US would deliberate on the matter early next year. He said the US government’s decision carries no immediate implication for Nigeria.
He said: “The correct US government position is that the addition of Nigeria to the watch list of the IRF does not make Nigeria a country of concern on religious freedom. “The watch list carries no immediate implication, except for the need for both countries to discuss areas of concern over the next year. We are looking forward to such discussions with our partners, the U.S.’’
Shehu insisted that Nigeria as a geopolitical entity had no policy that promotes one religion over the other. According to him, the right to freedom of worship for all citizens is guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution.
The presidential aide added: “We have no policy that promotes one religion against the other. “The right to freedom is guaranteed by the constitution and we have no problem observing that.” The US government had last week included Nigeria in its list of countries that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.” Other countries listed in the SWL are Burma, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.