The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has requested the United States Government to provide the data used to delist Nigeria from ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ regarding freedom of religion.
CAN asked if the US was unaware that Boko Haram, Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), bandits and violent herdsmen still attack Christians.
The President, Rev Samson Ayokunle, in a statement on Saturday, regretted that America did not contact the body before taking its decision.
The leader noted that CAN would have compared their statistics then and now with its own.
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He said whatever the parameters, “The prayer is Nigeria would be a country where no religious group is persecuted and our government ensures religiously-biased policies are discontinued”.
The President said terrorists’ agenda was to “wipe away Christianity and plant Islam as the only religion from the North down to the Atlantic Ocean in the South”.
Ayokunle informed the US that the bandits have joined other militant Islamic groups, “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.
The madness has grown now and those who are not Christians are being attacked, killed and kidnapped.
“This is because these criminal acts have become a lucrative business and it is whoever you can kidnap for money!”
Ayokunle maintains all right-thinking people would continue to ask the US to let the world know what has changed.
Citing examples, the cleric accused many Northern states of failing to reverse the policy which denies Christians the Certificate of Occupancy to build churches.
He complained that the states do not allow Christian students to study Christian Religious Studies in public schools.
Ayokunle said Christian students are denied admission to government universities to study courses like Law and Medicine, among others.
The statement reminded America that Leah Sharibu and students kidnapped from Bethel Baptist High School were left with the kidnappers “without any purposeful rescue mission”.
“The relatives and churches of the kidnapped people are being forced to pay ransoms worth millions of Naira to secure their people or children!
The Federal Government refused to see banditry as terrorism and has therefore refused to label them as terrorists. For whose good is this?
Is it because the bandits are close to those in government or because of religious consideration?”, Ayokunle quipped.
He expressed dismay that terrorists who surrendered or were captured are not prosecuted but cared for under the Buhari administration’s rehabilitation programme.
These people sent many people to early graves! Is this action of government fair to the people they killed and the rest of us traumatized and put in sadness.”.
Ayokunle disclosed that religious persecution and discrimination will be discussed at the next Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC).
This, according to him, would douse tension and foster a harmonious relationship between religious adherents in the country.