The United States has said it blacklisted Nigeria over alleged violations of religious freedom as a result of widening terrorism with little or no government response.
It explained that the Federal Government had been “tolerating egregious acts taking place in that nation.”
Speaking during a teleconference on Tuesday, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Samuel Brownback, said Nigeria was designated a “country of particular concern” after years of placing her under a watch list for allegedly enabling violations of religious rights.
The FG had rejected the blacklisting, stating that it would engage the US authorities and ensure that Nigeria was removed from the list.
But Brownback said, “We’re seeing a lot of religious-tinged violence taking place in that country and indeed in West Africa. It’s an area of growing concern about what’s happening, in particular, the tension that’s taking place there between religious groups. And it’s often the religious affiliation is used to try to recruit and inspire violent acts.”
The ambassador added that a major concern for the US is “the lack of adequate government response in Nigeria.”
“You’ve got expanded terrorist activities, you’ve got a lot of it associated around religious affiliations, and the government’s response has been minimal to not happening at all,” he said.
The ambassador added, “There have not been criminal cases brought forward by the government. The terrorism continues to happen and grow, in some places unabated.”
He urged the government to act fast to act, saying the US was ready to work with Nigerian officials.”