From Ndubuisi Orji, and Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
American Government has removed Nigeria from its religious violators’ list, Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said in a statement yesterday.
The America’s Secretary of States, however, listed Burma, the People’s Republic of China, Eritrea, Iran, the DPRK, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as countries of particular concern for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
Blinken said the United States would not waver in its commitment to advocate for freedom of religion or belief for all and in every country.
He added that in far too many places around the world, the United States continued to see governments harass, arrest, threaten, jail, and kill individuals simply for seeking to live their lives in accordance with their beliefs.
“This administration is committed to supporting every individual’s right to freedom of religion or belief, including by confronting and combating violators and abusers of this human right.”
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has charged Biliken to use his visit to Nigeria to engage the Federal Government on alleged human rights abuses, insecurity, corruption and threats to the country’s democracy.
The PDP caucus, in a statement by Kingsley Chinda, yesterday, said Biliken’s visit was timely, especially a it is coming ahead of the 2023 general electrons.
The caucus noted that it recognised the fact that the US is Nigeria’s strategic partner and expressed hope that the Secretary of State, during its visit would engage the government on its alleged failure to address the increasing terrorists attacks in the country.
“Just this week, a Brigadier General, was killed by ISWAP and this is in addition to the countless numbers of soldiers who have been killed or grievously injured with the weightless and worthless remark of getting to the root of the matter.
“Our country cannot afford the luxury of losing military officers to terrorists when it can seek strategic military and counter-insurgency assistance from the United States that has, for many years, built strategic and sustained military and intelligence frameworks for fighting terrorism.
“We note that the insistence of the Government of the United States that all strategic military, anti-terrorism and counter-insurgency engagements must be in accord with the Leahy laws.”
The opposition lawmakers added that it was imperative for the US to impress on government not to deploy military force against citizens, who embark on legitimate and constitutional agitations, including agitations for self-determination and secession.
“Beyond all of this, and as strategic partners with shared vision and future for peace, we are convinced that the shared vision and future are impossible without the United States showing more than a passing and curious interest on respect for human rights.
“The nexus between human rights and peace is beyond contest. Sustainable development is only possible when human rights become the cornerstone of governance.
“Under this government, human rights’ abuses have become the spur of violent conflicts, halting economic progress, growth and development.
“Secretary Bliken should, as a matter of urgency, hold the Nigerian government to account for the wanton assaults on rights, abuse of state power, systematic use of state violence to suppress peaceful protesters, particularly activists of the #EndSARS movement and campaigners for self-determination, extra-judicial killings, intimidation of the judiciary and declare to this government that abuses of human rights have consequences.”