The Nigerian government will early next year, meet with the U.S government over its decision to place Nigeria on its Watch List
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on this development, Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said placing Nigeria on the Watch list does make Nigeria a country of concern on religious freedom.
He added that placing Nigeria on U.S. watch list carries no immediate implication, and that does not in any way make the country an area of concern as being asserted in some quarters. The presidential aide maintained that Nigeria as a geo-political entity had no policy that promotes one religion against the other.
According to Shehu, the right to freedom of worship for all citizens is guaranteed in the Nigerian constitution “The correct U.S. government position is that the addition of Nigeria to the watch list of the IRF does not make Nigeria a country of concern on religious freedom.
“The watch list carries no immediate implication, except for the need for both countries to discuss areas of concern over the next year. We are looking forward to such discussions with our partners, the U.S. “We have no policy that promotes one religion against the other.
“The right to freedom is guaranteed by the constitution and we have no problem observing that,’’ he said. The US listed Nigeria among ‘Countries of Particular Concern’over its perceived tolerance for “violations of religious freedom”.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said the US had re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom”.
However, Comoros, Russia, Uzbekistan, Cuba, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Sudan are on a “Special Watch List” for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.”