Abuja, Nigeria — JUST over a month before he is expected to vacate office, the United States government of President Donald Trump has designated Nigeria and the Boko Haram for alleged violation of religious freedoms.
Nigeria has been designated alongside Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as “countries of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
This is for allegedly engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.
Trump’s government has placed Comoros, Cuba, Nicaragua and Russia on a so-called Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom.
The US has also designated al-Shabaab, al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, Islamic State, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern.
This is under the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2016.
Sudan and Uzbekistan have been removed from the Special Watch List based on what the US believes is significant, concrete progress undertaken by their respective governments over the past year.
“Religious freedom is an unalienable right, and the bedrock upon which free societies are built and flourish,” said Michael Pompeo, US Secretary of State.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest nation by population (over 200 million), is beset by religious tensions.
It is equally divided between Christians and Muslims.
The Boko Haram has killed over 30 000 civilians in a violent bid to create an Islamic state northeast of the country.
More than three million people have been displaced.
There have also been violent clashes over land resources between mostly Christian villagers and predominantly Muslim livestock rearers.