THE Presidency has rejected the position of the United Kingdom All-Party Parliamentary group which accused Nigeria of religious intolerance and intimidation against one religion.
An All-Party Parliamentary Group is a grouping in the Parliament of the United Kingdom that is composed of members of parliament from all political parties.
Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) in a statement on Friday said the President and Government of Nigeria expressed thanks to members of the United Kingdom All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom or Belief for their report, launched a few days ago.
Shehu argued that for generations in Nigeria, there have been tensions between major religions, Christianity and Islam – and between herders and farmers – both for access to ever-decreasing arable and farmland due to a rapidly rising population, temperatures and desertification through global warming.
Explaining further, he said beyond those tensions, the nation has also been in recent times within the northern states – subject to vicious and criminal attacks by the terror group Boko Haram which in concert with foreign supports, Nigeria’s military have pushed back the terrorists and largely reduced their capacity over the last five years compared to the previous decade.
“Boko Haram have targeted Christians and Churches specifically because they know it drives forward religious and land tensions already existent in the country. Similarly, they attack mosques and Muslims in order to issue the threat: radicalise, or become targets yourselves.
“In the months and years ahead, our President who is Muslim and our Vice President who is an evangelical Christian pastor are irrevocably committed to addressing these multiple and long-term challenges for today’s and future generations. These include:
– Continuing and increasing Nigeria’s efforts alongside our allies to fully defeat and finally finish Boko Haram, in order to bring security to the north of the country.
– Continuing to seek, negotiate for, and secure the return of all those held hostage and in captivity by the terrorists, regardless of the religious faith or belief.
– Uniting our nation through dialogue organised around respect for difference in religion. Such a programme is already underway under the leadership of the Vice President, Pastor Yemi Osinbajo.
– Addressing, through Joint Federal and State Governments programmes, access to arable farmland – with land mandated both for farmers and herders. The federal government will issue detailed measures regarding this plan and its rollout in the coming weeks
– Countering fake news – particularly on social and digital media – by working with the non-partisan stakeholder community, the National Broadcasting Commission and social media platforms themselves, to address the proliferation of false and inflammatory commentary.
“The President and Government have and will at all times work with those – both within and without Nigeria – with a concern for the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”, Shehu stated.
He assured that the government is committed to addressing the challenges towards promoting fundamental rights of the citizens.