The Federal Government has reacted to the call by United States Senators for the re-designation of Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) following several cases of persecution of Christians in the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in an interview with newsmen in London, on Monday, said the call was based on a false premise and misunderstanding of what was going on in the country.
He however added that the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) is responsible for the attack on Christians in the country.
He said, “We want to say once again that Nigeria does not have a policy that denies people the freedom to practise their religion.
“The country also does not have a policy of violation of freedom of religion and it is not true that Nigeria persecutes anybody on account of his or her faith.”
“Nobody in Nigeria is being persecuted, but we have issues of criminality going on and the criminals really do not make the distinction of any religion.
“The ISWAP terrorist group is responsible for the attacks on Christians and churches in Nigeria.
“They kidnap for money, they hold people for ransom irrespective of their religion and there are some issues of communal matters dating back to many years.
“What ISWAP is doing is that because of their dwindling influence, they are now attacking churches and Christians in order to create a crisis between various religious groups.
“But as a government, we are after them. If statistics is to be taken, I can say confidently that as many Muslims as Christians have been victims of these criminals.”
The US Senators had made the call in a letter to the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, alleging a violation of freedom of Nigerian Christians’ rights to practise their religion.