The Federal Government says it will vigorously engage the U.S. government to remove Nigeria from its blacklist of countries over concerns on religious freedom.
The government has also expressed its displeasure to the U.S. government over the development.
Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, conveyed Nigeria’s position via a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
The action is sequel to the announcement of the U.S. government to include Nigeria among countries which have contravened the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
The foreign affairs ministry said that the Nigerian government remained committed to ensuring respect and protection of the citizens’ right to religious freedom, while promoting religious tolerance and harmony.
“The attention of the ministry has been drawn to an announcement made by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, stating that the government of the United States of America has designated Nigeria as a ‘country of concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998’.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria received the news, with surprise, that a secular country under a democratic government will be so designated.
“Although the Nigerian state is multi-religious and multi-ethnic, the Nigerian constitution expressly states that the government shall not adopt any religion as state religion.
“Furthermore, Section 38 of the Constitution guarantees that every Nigerian citizen is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his/her religion or belief.
“And freedom to manifest and propagate his/her religion or belief. Religious liberty in Nigeria has never been in question; therefore, any claim contrary to that is completely false and untrue.
“The ministry wishes to assure that the Nigerian government will engage the U.S. government to express its displeasure and request that Nigeria be removed from the list,” the statement said.