The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said the detention of leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky, was “purely a criminal matter, which is being handled by a court of competent jurisdiction.”
The Minister said while the government accepted constructive criticism from any quarter, it “rejects any attempt to sow the seed of mistrust among the various religious groups in the country.”
Mohammed, on behalf of the Buhari regime, responded to a recent placement of Nigeria and six other countries on a special watchlist of states that engage in, or tolerate, “the severe violation of religious freedom.”
The Federal Government on Sunday rejected the designation, describing it as “misleading.”
According to the government, the United States “fell for the antics of the discontented and the unpatriotic few” who will not hesitate to hang Nigeria out to dry on the altar of their inordinate ambition and their sheer animosity towards the regime of the President, Major General Muhammdu Buhari (retd.).
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in a statement issued in Abuja, said the deliberate effort to give religious coloration to the farmer-herder clashes and, in particular, the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, had undoubtedly helped to mislead the US.
While describing the “iniquitous tag” as stemming from “an orchestrated narrative that has long been discredited,” he said the good people of Nigeria enjoy unfettered freedom to practise their religion.
Mohammed blamed the tag on “failed politicians and disgruntled elements — some of them supposedly respected leaders — for latching on to religion as their trump card, especially in the run up to the 2019 general elections.
He said it was “unfortunate that the US fell for the antics of the discontented and the unpatriotic” few who will not hesitate to hang Nigeria out to dry on the altar of their inordinate ambition and their sheer animosity towards the Buhari regime.
The minister said the Nigerian government was acutely aware of how the political opposition, in particular, had spared no resources in deriving political capital from the various security challenges in the country.
The statement reads in part, “The deliberate effort to give religious coloration to the farmer-herder clashes and the Boko Haram insurgency, in particular, has undoubtedly helped to mislead the US into concluding that the government is doing little or nothing to guarantee religious freedom in the country.
”But, as we have always said, the farmer-herder clashes have
nothing to do with religion but everything to do with environmental
and socio-economic realities.
“The religious tag given to the clashes has no basis in fact, but is very convenient for those who will very easily give the dog a bad name just to hang it.
“On its part, the Boko Haram terrorists are extreme fanatics who do not subscribe to the tenets of any religion, in spite of their pretence to Islamic adherence.”
Mohammed said the good news was that the Buhari regime had
succeeded in curbing the farmer-herder clashes through the implementation of proactive and multi-dimensional strategy, “which is yielding remarkable results, just as it has largely defeated the Boko Haram insurgency.”