May 30, 2024

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NASFAT Rejects US Inclusion of Nigeria among Countries That Violates Religious Freedom

3 min read

Akin Olayemi
A religious organisation, Nasrul-Lahi-l-Fatih Society, NASFAT has rejected the United States of America’s inclusion of Nigeria on the special watch list of countries that persecutes and violates religious freedom.

NASFAT in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Akeem Yusuf, said no Nigerian is oppressed as far as religious freedom is concerned noting that every citizen has an unhindered right to freedom of religion as enshrined in the constitution of the country.

While calling the attention of the US Government to the authentic narrative of the good people of Nigeria, NASFAT cited an instance of its recently held 5th Biennial Conference themed “Peaceful Coexistence: Panacea for Unity, Growth and Development” which featured a Catholic Priest as one of the panellists and an inter-religious walk for peace and harmony.

The statement reads, “NASFAT had organized an international conference on peaceful coexistence amongst tribes and religions in Abuja, Nigeria in which the USA collaborated.
While not presenting itself as the spokesperson of the Government of Nigeria, it is common knowledge that the “Boko Haram” phenomenon is a special case that defies logical or religious explanations.

The unfortunate kidnappings, destructions and killings by the group cannot be justified under Islamic Shari’a or by the teachings of the noble Qur’an. The farmers/herders clashes referred to in the US report are unfortunate events occasioned by climate change, rapid urbanization, and obsolete agricultural practices underpinned by inadequate land and water resources; but given ethnic and religious colouration by some people for selfish gains.

The violence is exacerbated by the proliferation of and easy access to arms, polarizing media coverage including fake news on social media, high rates of unemployment, drug use, poverty and inadequate policing and security infrastructure to prevent, detect, address and curb violent crimes.”

Nigeria, NASFAT informed is a multi-religious state where citizens practice their religion without any form of molestation or persecution.

It added “Unlike in other climes where government is using sophisticated surveillance technology to monitor ethnic and religious minorities, Nigerians have unfettered freedom to espouse their beliefs and engage in religious activities.

It is the tolerant spirit exhibited and observed by the people of different faiths that have kept all Nigerians to move ahead despite the inconveniences arising from the way we practice our different faiths and the egregious behavior of some religious leaders and institutions who chose to blatantly violate the laws of the land and encroach on the peace of their neighbours.”

NASFAT however reiterates that Nigeria is not a secular state but rather a multi-religious country.

“Section 10 of the country’s constitution rules out a state of theocracy, a system of government established by religion. It greatly encourages and guarantees freedom of religion and religious practices while maintaining equilibrium amongst the different religions in the country.”

NASFAT therefore admonishes the USCIRF and the US Government not to rely solely on the narratives gathered from the social media and partisan entities in reaching a conclusion on Nigeria.

It however charges the Nigerian government to conduct its operations transparently based on the rule of law and within the ambit of the Nigerian constitution.

It said, “The government should continue its policy of non-discrimination against groups or religions in Nigeria and continue to be fair to all irrespective of their religious or ethnic background.

With regards to the advice from the US Government, NASFAT urges the Nigerian government to address its response to it with facts, emphasize the sovereignty of Nigeria and the supremacy of our constitution including Shari’a legislation, while remaining open to technical, operational, humanitarian and financial assistance from friendly nations to support our war against hate speech, sectarian violence, insurgency and terrorism of all forms.”

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