By Clara Egbogota
Lagos. – The Nasrul-Lahi-I-Fatih Society (NASFAT) has decried the U.S Government’s inclusion of Nigeria on the Special Watch List of countries that engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom”.
Alhaji Akeem Yusuf, National Publicity Secretary of NASFAT, made the society’s position known on Monday in Lagos.
According to Yusuf, the society drew the attention of the U.S Government to the authentic narrative of good people of Nigeria who have been enjoying religious freedom without hindrance, as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“NASFAT cited its recently held 5t’ Biennial Conference with the theme: “Peaceful Coexistence: Panacea for Unity, Growth and Development” which hosted a Catholic Priest as one of the panelists and a Walk for Peace and Harmony with other religious faithful.
“NASFAT recalled that it had earlier in the beginning of this decade organised an international conference on peaceful co-existence amongst tribes and religions in Nigeria at Abuja to which the U.S collaborated,” he said.
Yusuf said though, the society was not presenting itself as the Federal Government’s spokesperson, “it is common knowledge that the “Boko Haram phenomenon is a special case that defies logical or religious explanations”.
He said that the unfortunate kidnappings, destructions and killings by the group could not be justified under Islamic Shari’a or by the teachings of the noble Qur’an.
“The farmers/herders clashes referred to in the U.S report are unfortunate events occasioned by climate change, rapid urbanisation, obsolete agricultural practices underpinned by inadequate land and water resources; but given ethnic and religious colouration by some for selfish gain.
“The violence is exacerbated by the proliferation of and easy access to arms, polarising media coverage, including fake news on social media.
“High rates of unemployment, drug use, poverty and inadequate policing and security infrastructure to prevent, detect, address and curb violent crimes.
“Nigeria is a multi-religious state where citizens practice their religion without any form of molestation or persecution.
“This is unlike in other climes where government is using sophisticated surveillance technology to monitor ethnic and religious minorities.
“It is the tolerance spirit exhibited and observed by the people of the different faiths that has kept all Nigerians to move ahead despite the inconveniences arising from the way we practice our different faiths,” Yusuf said.
He said NASFAT admonished the USCIRF and the U.S Government not to rely solely on the narratives gathered from the social media and partisan entities in reaching a conclusion on Nigeria.
Yusuf said NASFAT, however, urged the federal government to conduct its operations transparently based on the rule of law and within the ambit of the Nigerian constitution.
“It should continue its policy of non- discrimination against groups or religions in Nigeria and continue to be fair to all irrespective of their religious or ethnic background,” he said.
Yusuf also urged the government to address its response to it with facts, emphasising the sovereignty of Nigeria and the supremacy of our Constitution including Shari’a legislation.
“We should remain open to technical, operational, humanitarian and financial assistance from friendly nations to support our war against hate speech, sectarian violence, insurgency and terrorism of all forms,” he said.