Five American senators have asked Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, to re-designate Nigeria as a country of particular concern (CPC). In December 2020, the US listed Nigeria among countries blacklisted for “violating religious freedom” under the CPC designation. However, in November 2021, Nigeria was removed from the list.
In a June 29, 2022 letter, the senators questioned why Nigeria was “inexplicably” removed “despite no demonstrable improvement in the country’s religious freedom conditions”. They cited the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State and the lynching of Deborah Samuel, a female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, as cases of “religious persecutions” in Nigeria.
The senators, who signed the letter are Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio, Mike Braun, James Inhofe and Tom Cotton. “As you are well aware, horrific acts of deadly violence have been committed against Nigerian Christians in recent weeks, including the massacre of churchgo ers on Pentecost Sunday and the stoning of a Christian college student. Sadly, such violence has become all too familiar for Christians in Africa’s most populous country,” the letter reads.
“Last year, however, you inexplicably removed Nigeria’s designation as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) despite no demonstrable improvement in the country’s religious freedom conditions. “On the contrary, the situation in Nigeria has grown worse. We previously urged you to immediately reverse your misguided decision, and we write today to renew our call. “Recent high-profile acts of violence underscore the intense religious persecution that is regularly experienced by Nigerian Christians. “On Pentecost Sunday, gunmen attacked St. Francis Catholic Church in Nigeria’s Ondo state, reportedly killing at least 50 churchgoers. “Last month, a violent mob brutally stoned to death Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu, a student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in northwest Nigeria,” they said.