Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has refuted allegations by the Northern Christian Elders Forum, that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is practising bigotry and alienating Christians.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, yesterday, quoted from a letter to the British Parliamentary Group, signed by Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, JusticeGeorge Adetola Oguntade (retd), which dismissed the claims as “inconceivable and outrightly false, allusions to the effect that Boko Haram terrorism served a government agenda against Christians.
Government’s response was contained in a letter to the British Parliamentary Group, signed by Oguntade.
Two letters were addressed to Philip Mounstephen, a former secretary of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and now Head, Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Support of Persecuted Christians, and Chair of All Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief. Baroness Berridge,
In the correspondences, the federal government strongly dismissed as inconceivable and outrightly false, allusions to the effect that the Boko Haram terrorism served a government agenda against Christians.
“It would be useful for me to engage with this process, to ensure that you are thoroughly briefed on the situation in Nigeria.
“The safety and security of all Nigerians, whatever their faith, is a fundamental priority of the Buhari government.
“Government knows that Nigeria can only achieve its potential if there is religious tolerance and cooperation,” Oguntade wrote in the correspondences.
The high commissioner also explained that Buhari’s deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, is a pastor, and that that the president “has befriended Church leaders and church groups; within and outside Nigeria.”
He added that the president’s cabinet is balanced between Muslims and Christians, and that he himself was a former chancellor of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).
Oguntade said Osinbajo has maintained regular contacts with Christian and Muslim leaders; as part of efforts to build and sustain interfaith dialogue.