The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari has defeated the boko haram insurgents, adding that, the detention of the Leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, was “purely a criminal matter, which is being handled by a court of competent jurisdiction”.
The Minister, stated that while the government accepts constructive criticisms 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 administration, was responding to a recent placement of Nigeria and 6 other countries on a special watch-list 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 Muhammadu Buhari.
The Minister of Information and Culture, in a statement issued in Abuja, said that 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 the “iniquitous tag” as stemming from “an orchestrated narrative that has long been discredited”, he noted that the good people of Nigeria enjoy unfettered freedom to practice 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.
The Minister, stated that the Nigerian government is acutely aware of how the 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 that the good news is that the Buhari regime has 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”.