…reels out measures taken to ease tension in Nigeria
President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected recent reports by the United Kingdom All Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom Report on Nigeria released a few days ago, alleging genocide against Christians in the country. In a statement made available to newsmen yesterday by his spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, the President also reeled out measures put in place by his government to address tension caused by religion especially between Christians and Muslims as well as that caused by limited availability to arable land causing crisis between farmers and herders across the country. While thanking the group for launching the report, the President noted that it also acknowledged the importance of accurate, unbiased, depoliticised and truthful information when it comes to inunderstanding the realities and addressing the challenges for those of faith in Nigeria.
He stated: “In this regard when uncritical attention is afforded to critics with dubious intentions, it only becomes harder for both the government and people of Nigeria to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve our differences, and uphold what is enshrined in our constitution and laws: that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
“It is clear for all to see that there have, for generations in Nigeria, been tensions between our 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.” “Exacerbating those tensions, our nation has also been in recent times and focused within the northern states – subject to vicious and criminal attacks by the terror group, Boko Haram.
“In concert with our American and British allies, 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 has 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.’’ Others were “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.” While looking forward to welcoming members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group into the country to see for themselves the ongoing work to promote these fundamental rights of Nigerians, Shehu said 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, he assured.