The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has come out to kick against the removal of Nigeria from the list of countries blacklisted for “engaging in violation of religious freedom” by the United States.
On Wednesday, November 17, Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, announced 10 countries “of particular concern (CPC)”, removing Nigeria from the list a year after putting Nigeria.
But Samson Ayokunle, CAN national president, said Christians all over Nigeria are still facing persecution from terrorist groups and wondered the data or statistics used by the US government before deciding to remove Nigeria from the list.
“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,” the statement reads.
“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 and the Northeast part of the country.
“We have been shouting at the top of our voice almost in vain, that government policies should be religiously neutral enough so that no religious group would be seen as being favoured or discriminated against.
“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 organisation.
“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.”