7th January, 2020
The Presidency has faulted claims by the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is engaging in religious intolerance.
CAN had publicly supported the addition of Nigeria to the “Special Watch List (SWL)” of countries that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.”
The Christian group who had countered Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed’s claim of the United States being misled by propaganda, also accused of the Buhari-led administration of nepotism and lopsided appointment which favours only one religion.
CAN, in a statement released by Adebayo Oladeji, the Special Assistant (Media &Communications) to CAN President Reverend Samson Ayokunle also recounted how the Chief Justice of Nigeria, few days ago called for amendment of the Constitution with a view of adding more Sharia contents. It also pointed out that no Christian is heading the 3 arms of government.
However, reacting to CAN’s stance, the presidency, in a statement issued by Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, said the security forces of Nigeria were working continuously to return those taken hostage by Boko Haram to their families, friends and communities and that in doing this, the government had full confidence in their ability to accomplish the task.
“On its own part, government has condemned some of the appalling acts of terror, especially following the festive period. Yet, to continue to see these happenings solely in religious terms – removed from social, economic and environmental factors – simplifies complexities that must be heeded. Not seeing them as they should be is exactly what the terrorists and groups wish: they want Nigerians to see their beliefs as reason to turn against one another.
“On the contrary, Christians and Muslims alike are united in their opposition to Boko Haram and the hatred for decency that the infamous group stands for.
“Nigerians must continue to be united in ensuring that they do not subscribe to the terrorists’ message of division. Unfortunately, some leaders and politicians seek to make political capital from our religious differences. As we fight Boko Haram on the ground, so too must we tackle their beliefs: stability and unity in face of their hatred is itself a rejection of their worldview.
“This government shall never tolerate religious intolerance. We clearly and unambiguously restate our support for the freedom to practice whichever belief you wish. The politicisation of religion – as forbidden by the constitution – has no place in Nigeria.