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Religious Violators’ List: US Blacklisted Nigeria After 12months Of IPOB Lies —Presidency

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The presidency has blamed the Indigenous people of Biafra, IPOB, for having Nigeria on the religious violators’ watchlist, saying Nigeria shouldn’t have been on the list but was included after IPOB allegedly funded to spread falsehoods and misinformation about Nigeria for 12months.

The Presidency noted that the aim was to drive a wedge, for political reasons between the two major faiths in Nigeria to make sure their false claims that the two faiths cannot live side-by-side.

But, Garba Shehu, the senior special adviser to the President, in a post on his social media page titled “WHAT BIDEN’S REMOVAL OF NIGERIA FROM RELIGIOUS VIOLATION WATCHLIST MEANS” claimed that “The removal of Nigeria from the religious violators’ watchlist by the Biden-led US administration is a triumph of diplomacy and sagacity over hate-driven foreign policy, itself founded on false propaganda.”

Garba Shehu noted that the President, Mohammadu Buhari is satisfied with the decision by the United States to remove Nigeria from that unwanted list of countries because the decision was “based on Facts”

He said, “President Muhammadu Buhari is truly satisfied with the decision by the United States to remove Nigeria from that unwanted list of countries. Blinken said the decision of the Joe Biden Government on this was “based on facts.”

“In expressing the country’s appreciation for this, the President noted that there is freedom of worship in Nigeria, and no one is discriminated against on the basis of his or her faith.

“Since Nigeria was included in December 2020, in the aftermath of the Donald Trump’s election loss, it has taken only 11 months for this decision to be reversed under the Biden administration.

“This sad and uncalled for the ban came on the heels of 12 months of lies by some extremist groups and the banned terrorist group the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB’s well-funded international media campaign.

Nigeria should never have been on the list. It was included after paid right-wing American lobbyists were funded millions of dollars by IPOB to spread falsehoods and misinformation about Nigeria. Those who willingly took money from terrorists spread falsehoods against a democratically elected government. They took advantage of well-meaning, God-fearing Americans to whom they spread their lies.”

According to Garba Shehu, the delisting would strengthen the bilateral relationship with the two countries which is hitherto getting moribund with the former administration.

With this egregious listing removed, US-Nigeria relations are now reset, and we can jointly seek resolution to other critical matters – including the fight against terrorists across the Sahel region. This task was complicated by the now reversed decision. To that end, the present administration looks forward to working with the Biden administration on matters, bilateral and multilateral that are important to our friendly states.

President Buhari is satisfied with the decision by the United States to remove Nigeria from a list of countries deemed to lack religious freedom, placed there by a previous US administration no longer in office.

Taking a swipe at former President Donald Trump, Garba Shehu said despite all the money spent on the propaganda, they were only able to convince “those who had been voted out of office by US citizens to add Nigeria to the list.”

 He said, “Their aim was to drive a wedge, for political advantage, between the two great religions and by doing so, make true their fake claims that Muslims and Christians cannot live side-by-side in love and peace. They did not care if their maliciousness was the cause of religious tension. In fact, it is possible they sought to encourage it to prove their point.  Yet, despite all the funds at their disposal, they only convinced for a brief time those who had been voted out of office by US citizens to add Nigeria to the list.

“It is a fallacy to suggest Nigeria lacks religious freedom. A visit to any city will see a surfeit of posters for religious groups, for Muslims and Christians alike. Nigerians wear our faith on our sleeves.

“Nigeria is one of the most religious nations in the world – near equally balanced between Muslims and Christians. It is well-known the President counts amongst his personal friends many global Christian leaders, though he himself is Muslim; our Vice President is an Evangelical pastor; our cabinet is equally balanced between Christians and Muslims.”

The presidency however acknowledged that there are tensions in the country but said there are plans in place to address such tensions.

Garba Shehu said, “This is not to say there are no tensions. The President and all who serve in his administration know there are. And they are being addressed: for instance, the present administration is the only government since independence to introduce a plan to address farmer-herder clashes. Today that plan is working. Many states are taking the lead in its implementation because they, not the Federal Government control land.”

“What we said at the time of the listing remains true that the government under President Muhammadu Buhari is run in accordance with our constitution.  The losses of life and threats to the lives of our civilian populations from communal and inter-communal violence, banditry and terrorism are of great concern to the administration.  It is, therefore, incorrect for anyone to assume the position that the government is doing nothing to address these intertwined threats.”

On Boko Haram, Garba Shehu revealed that the Buhari Administration has successfully disposed of the terror group in the northeast region of the country.

“This administration has successfully dispossessed terrorists in the Northeast of all land and territory that they held; forcing them into hiding out amongst remote forests and across borders and they are being fought in those locations.”


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