US indicts federal and state govts on religious, sectarian issues

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The United States government has declared that religious freedom conditions in Nigeria remained poor in 2017, according to a report by its agency that monitors international religious freedom.

The federal and some state governments  were indicted by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for their discrimination in handling of religious matters and violence arising from religious and sectarian related disagreements.

In a report on its website with the link http://www.uscirf.gov/countries/nigeria, the government commission stated: “Sectarian violence between predominantly Muslim herders and predominantly Christian farmers increased, and the Nigerian federal government failed to implement effective strategies to prevent or stop such violence or to hold perpetrators accountable. Despite gains made by the Nigerian military in the fight against Boko Haram, the government’s nonmilitary efforts remained nascent, and Boko Haram’s attacks continued.”

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It adds: “Nigerian government at the national and state levels continued to tolerate violence and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, and suppressed the freedom to manifest religion or belief.

“The federal government continued to detain the leader of the Shi’a Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, along with his wife and hundreds of other members, and state governments continued to ban the group’s activities.

“The government also failed to hold Nigerian Army officers accountable for excessive use of force against IMN members, against Boko Haram, and in efforts to curtail sectarian violence.

“Finally, other religious freedom abuses continued at the state level, including coercive official or societal actions to enforce particular religious norms.

“Based on these violations, in 2018
USCIRF again finds that Nigeria should be designated as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International
Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), as it has found since 2009.”

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