In a letter to the British Parliamentary Group, the Nigerian Government has denied allegations of alienating Christians or practicing bigotry. The FG letter which was signed by the country’s High Commissioner to the UK, George Oguntade, described the allegation by the Northern Christian Elders Forum as “inconceivable” and “outrightly false”.
Another letter by the Nigerian government was addressed to Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, a former secretary of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) who now heads an “Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Support of Persecuted Christians”.
- “The safety and security of all Nigerians, whatever their faith, is a fundamental priority of the Buhari Government. The government knows that Nigeria can only achieve its potential if there is religious tolerance and cooperation,” the Nigerian government letter read.
Why it matters: In his committee’s interim report to the UK Foreign Secretary, Rt Revd Mounstephen made this troubling assessment: “Reports consistently showed that in Nigeria, month after month, on average hundreds of Christians were being killed for reasons to which their faith was integral. An investigation showed that in 2018 far more Christians in Nigeria were killed in violence in which religious faith was a critical factor than anywhere else in the world; Nigeria accounted for 3,731 of the 4,136 fatalities: 90 percent of the total.”
FGs response to the allegations:
- Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s vice president is a pastor.
- President Buhari “has befriended Church leaders and church groups both within and outside Nigeria.”
- The federal cabinet is balanced between Muslims and Christians.
- VP Osinbajo has maintained regular contacts with Christian and Muslim leaders as part of efforts to build and sustain interfaith dialogue.
- The farmers-herders clashes have nothing to do with ethnicity or religion, and did not begin with the Buhari government. “Such clashes bordered on the desire for pasture by the herders and the desire to protect crops from encroachment and destruction by the farmers.”
- “The issue of grazing routes is historically central to these conflicts and the Buhari administration is taking a holistic approach to the matter with a view to ending it once and for all, so that Nigerians can live in peace with one another.”
- Boko Haram do not represent Islam, and they kill both Christians and Muslims. “The Government is totally dedicated to eradicating their stain from our land.”