President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected a report alleging that there is genocide against Christians in the country.
In the report, the United Kingdom All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom or Belief, a group made up of British parliamentarians, said Christians are being targeted because of their faith in Nigeria.
But in a statement on Friday, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, said Boko Haram insurgents have targeted Christians because they know it drives religious tensions in the country.
Shehu said the Buhari administration is committed to addressing these challenges and has already begun taking measures.
“The president and government of Nigeria wish to thank members of the United Kingdom All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom or Belief for their report, launched a few days ago,” he said.
“Although it is difficult reading, the statement also acknowledges the importance of accurate, unbiased, depoliticised and truthful information when it comes to understanding the realities and addressing the challenges for those of faith in Nigeria.
“In this regard when uncritical attention is afforded to critics with dubious intentions, it only becomes harder for both the government and people of Nigeria to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve our differences, and uphold what is enshrined in our constitution and laws: that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
“In concert with our American and British allies, Nigeria’s military have pushed back the terrorists and largely reduced their capacity over the last five years compared to the previous decade.
“Boko Haram have targeted Christians and Churches specifically because they know it drives forward religious and land tensions already existent in the country. Similarly, they attack mosques and Muslims in order to issue the threat: radicalise, or become targets yourselves.”
Shehu said while the government is increasing efforts “to fully defeat and finally finish Boko Haram”, it has not stopped seeking to negotiate for those held captive by the insurgents.
According to him, under the leadership of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, there are efforts to unite the country through dialogue as regards religious differences.
“The president and government have and will at all times work with those – both within and without Nigeria – with a concern for the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” he said.
“In this regard, we look forward to welcoming members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group to our country to see for themselves the work that is going on to promote these fundamental rights of our citizens.”