The Young Christian Forum of Nigeria has strongly frowned at the classification of Nigeria as a religious intolerant county by the United States of America.
Recall that the United States had blacklisted Nigeria for “engaging (in) systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the measure via Twitter on Monday, saying his country will continue to act when “religious freedom is attacked”.
However, CFN insisted that Nigeria is not a religious intolerant country as asserted by the US under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
This is coming after the Federal Government earlier denounced the listing of Nigeria by the United States as one of the countries known for “systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations.”
The federal government described Nigeria as a nation that “jealously protects religious freedom as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and takes seriously any infringements in this regard.”
Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said there was religious freedom in Nigeria, but admitted that Christians, especially in the North, were being persecuted.
Reacting to the development during a press conference on Friday, CFN through its President, Pastor Prince Gideon, called on the United States, to remove Nigeria from the list of countries it has blacklisted over religious intolerance.
The group said there is no record of religious intolerance in the country as averred by the US.
Full text of his speech below.
The Young Christian Forum as the umbrella body of young Christians in Nigeria is taken aback by the position of the United States of America in this regard which in our considered opinion is lacking in every form of objectivity. We are consequently amazed at how such classification could be made without recourse to the religious plurality of Nigeria.
It is our considered opinion that the United States of America does not have any moral authority to label Nigeria as a religious intolerant country for the fact that there hasn’t been any instance where adherents of the various religious faiths in Nigeria have been hindered or prevented from practicing or engaging in their religious beliefs.
The Young Christian Forum sees this as an affront to our sensibilities as a people and as a country because the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria explicitly guarantees all citizens of Nigeria the right to religious freedom and this has been the norm from time immemorial.
The Young Christian Forum is not aware of any of such restrictions in Nigeria. The vibrant Nigerian press has not reported that with regards to restrictions on religious freedom or instances of religious favoritism by all tiers of government in Nigeria.
It remains a figment of the United States of America that there are religious restrictions in Nigeria. If this is not the case, we wonder how the United States of America arrived at such an illogical conclusion.
The attendant designation of Nigeria as a country of concern in religious freedom is very uncharitable and a display of crass ignorance by the American authorities in what can be termed a plot to spark mutual suspicion amongst the adherents of the various religious groupings in the country.
The United States of America must come to terms with the fact that designating a sovereign country like Nigeria as religiously intolerant is an act of sabotage that does not spell well for the psychological psyche of Nigerians.
The Young Christian Forum as a critical stakeholder in Nigeria is most embarrassed by the action of the United States of America because it is evident that there is more than meets the eyes.
It is also a dishonorable action for the American authorities to attempt to pitch the various religions against each other in Nigeria by making wild and unsubstantiated allegations that can’t be back by any fact.
The Young Christian Forum wishes to use this medium to enlighten the American authorities that their line of thought is defective and not a reflection of the realities on the ground in Nigeria with regards to the rights of Nigerian citizens to practice any religion of their choice.
This is on the heels that in Nigeria, there hasn’t been any instance where the government has placed restrictions on religious expressions. As a fact, no Christian or Muslim has been prosecuted for practicing their faiths. It is also on record that the government has shut no religious place of worship under any guise.
The Young Christian Forum consists of members from various interdenominational organizations, and to the best of our knowledge, there has not been any curricular restricting the rights of our members or citizens to worship or association. The American authorities must, as a matter of morality desists from making unguarded statements that are capable of igniting a sectarian conflict in Nigeria such as this.
We consequently demand that an unreserved apology be tendered to Nigeria and Nigerians from the United States of America because their classification of Nigeria as a country with egregious religious violations is untoward and smacks of a mockery of the sincerity of the United States of America on issues of global concern in all ramifications.
The Young Christian Forum is calling on all Nigerians to avoid any terrorist tagging by any country. We are a country of noblemen and women with a high level of religious tolerance. As such, we refuse to be painted in a bad light.
We are using this medium to call on the United States of America to begin the process of removing Nigeria from the list of countries it has designated as a country of concern for engaging systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations. Nigeria and Nigerians deserve her respectful position amongst the comity of nations as one of the countries with impeccable records in religious tolerance.
The Young Christian Forum of Nigeria is calling on the international community as well as our development partners to disregard the insinuations by the United States of America, which by and large is more political than reality.
Rise Against Diaspora Interferences To Destabilize Nigeria, CTJ Charges Nigerians
The Coalition for Truth and Justice (CTJ) has called on Nigerians to rise against negative influences and interferences in the Diaspora who mean no well for the country.
The coalition gave this charge at a press conference on Friday in Abuja.
According to Executive Director, Comrade Dominic Ohene, Nigerians abroad no longer display patriotism but malicious influence, surreptitiously eating the heart of the nation and contaminating the youths.
Comrade Ohene noted that social media has become the major tool used in spreading false information and propagating misleading propaganda to implant anarchy and ultimately overturn the people’s mandate.
Speaking further, Ohene recalled how these tactics almost worked during the EndSARS protests last year after these Nigerians hijacked and escalated the exercise.
While citizens of other nations uplift the image of their country, the CTJ said most Nigerians outside the shores have elected to attack and set their home in flames.
More worrisome, Ohene noted that the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) have assisted these elements to achieve their course, availing its offices as a staging point for attacks against their home government.
The CTJ, therefore, charged all Nigerians to stand up in solidarity to say enough is enough to the adverse impact of the Diasporas in our country.
While calling for strict sanctions on these Nigerians, the coalition recommended that all Diaspora groups and offices must be overhauled and replaced with more competent people willing to work earnestly and efficiently for the interest of the country.
It, however, urged all Nigerians to work together and support President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration for the peace and prosperity of our dear country Nigeria.
Read the full statement below:
The present epoch could reasonably be referred to as the diasporan age. The age of mass movement from one country to another. The age where citizens can represent their mother countries while residing in another, the age where their actions and voices can be heard, and cause tremendous affect either positively or negatively.
As a matter of fact, these effects have to lead many nations to look into the meanings birthed by the word “Diaspora”, especially meaning with dispersal, immigration, expatriate, refuge, exile, and ethnonational communities. There is no doubt that all these are more or less part of the intrinsic dynamics of a diaspora community.
Be that as it may, membership of a contemporary diaspora now implies potential empowerment based on the ability to exert socio-economic and political influence in both the homeland and the host and.
Indeed, we all know that diasporan historiography and discourses have grown exponentially in recent times. Despite this impressive historiography, the Nigerian diaspora has largely been subsumed under the general categories of studies dealing with Africans or Blacks living outside the shores of Africa.
The Coalition for Truth and Justice feels disturbed and very concerned about the soiled-Nigerian-garment by many Nigerians in the diaspora. It is said that “A good name is better than gold and riches…”
Unlike how Interestingly it used to be, that members of the Nigerian diaspora were heavily involved in transnational activities that effectively integrated their countries of origin with their host countries. They, therefore, became not only veritable agents of poverty reduction but a key player in the process of Africa’s socio-economic transformation and development, thereby playing a pivotal role in the process of integrating the African continent into an increasingly globalized world.
Unfortunately, it is very heartbreaking to see that this precious historical legacy has now been thrown to the swine just because of the selfishness of some bad urchins that seek after their own political aggrandizement.
These negative influence of many Nigerians in the diaspora are surreptitiously eating at the heart of our nation and it is corrupting our youths. Their influence on the youths of Nigeria has been appalling. A lot of Nigerians at home look up to Nigerians in the diaspora as they believe that they become more successful over there, and thus, their way of life has been emulated by many Nigerians.
The awful thing about this is that they bring their bad culture to Nigeria. They exhibit the most appalling behaviour and this only succeeds in eroding the personalities of our youths. They have chosen to use social media as a means of spreading false information and propagating misleading propaganda. Their only aim is to implant a lawless society in Nigeria. Their only aim is to ensure that their fat cheques keep coming from their sponsors. It is most unfortunate that these evil political sponsors are hiding behind the façade of being democrats when in reality they abhor the very tenets of democracy, which is why they are keen on using crude tactics to overturn the mandate that Nigerians gave the government.
During the EndSars protests, the diasporas shamelessly attacked the Nigerian government. They also conducted needless protests in their respective countries of residence. These actions only helped to further instigate the young men and women protesting which eventually turned violent and bloody. Their many witless posts on social media escalated the protests into a mini-revolution. But thanks to the prompt mobilisation and efficiency of the Nigerian security personnel, the situation was promptly arrested.
The sad thing about all these is that a majority of these people in the diaspora are outcasts and renegades who escaped to foreign countries after committing various atrocities. Many of them were armed robbers, rapists, school dropouts and lazy louts. These are unrepentant people with past criminal records, and they refuse to desist those act, but tend to continue such without giving it a second thought of the harm they are causing the society. Some of them are people who either failed in their businesses or their careers and therefore migrated overseas in search of greener pasture’. We call on every patriotic citizen to think it deeply that, If these people failed to make a significant impact in their country, of what value could they possibly be in other countries? They have nothing to offer.
There has never been a group of people that mindlessly rained abuses on its own government from the shores of other countries. Every Nigerian citizen whether in the diaspora or not must do their best to be patriotic citizens by uplifting the image of the country rather than tarnishing it. The actions of the diaspora community especially in recent times is condemnable.
Patriotism is the sine qua non of every Nigerian citizen but the diasporas have shown us times without number that they lack it. This lack of patriotism has made many of the diasporas to act with such reckless abandon.
The shocking thing is that the diaspora groups and organizations such as NIDCOM have done little to curb this menace Nigeria is faced with. They have failed in many regards especially in identifying these rogue elements that are working against the interests of the country. Rather, the diaspora office has become an avenue for disgruntled elements to congregate against the interest of our country Nigeria. The diaspora offices have become a staging point for attacks against their home government. They are just opportunists who are only concerned with pursuing their own personal interests. The result of these acts of theirs has led to the unwarranted temporal ban on our dear country by some countries, and these have affected some meaningful Nigerians that had good visions and plans on how they would have made great exploits.
We stand here before you all today to tell you that a stop must be put to the actions of these diasporas before things get out of hand. It is of paramount importance that this situation is tackled headlong and fast. If possible, the leadership of the use the social media to stir the pot of disharmony in the country.
We must all stand up in solidarity to say enough is enough to the adverse impact of the diasporas in our country. To ensure our patriotism is unshaken, the Coalition for Truth and Justice is reminding every Nigerian that this is not a one stakeholder’s affair or fight, We are hereby calling on all Nigerians both in Nigeria and in the diaspora to work together and provide all the needed support for President Muhammadu Buhari led administration for the peace and prosperity of our dear country Nigeria.
Insurgency: More Nigerians Eager, Willing To Join Nigerian Army To Fight Boko Haram
Recruitment into the Nigerian Army has assumed a new dimension with a record massive enlistment rate in the past few years. In a bid to understand the rush for enlistment, this medium undertook an analysis of some of the factors responsible for the surge in interest for enrolment into the Nigerian Army.
In a series of interviews conducted, it was observed that part of the reason for the surge in the interest in the Nigerian Army is the reintroduction of professionalism and improved welfare packages for officers and soldiers.
The recently conducted enlistment for recruits into the Nigerian Army buttresses this point. The number of candidates that turned up for screening was massive so much that quite a substantial number was turned back for failing to meet the criteria that by all indication was stringent.
According to some of the interviewed recruits, they stated that enlisting into the Nigerian Army is a thing of pride and a medium to contribute their quota to preserving the country’s territorial integrity.
Adamu Salisu, an indigene of Kebbi State who was amongst those whose application was rejected, stated that he was disqualified because he didn’t have the required educational qualification.
“ I have only two credits in my senior school certificate examinations; the minimum qualification is five credits. I decided to try my luck because I am passionate about Nigeria. I like the way soldiers are fighting the Boko Haram insurgents. My uncle, who is a sergeant in the Nigerian Army encouraged me to apply because he wants me to benefit and contribute to Nigeria.” he said.
He further added that he would ensure that he serves Nigeria with all of his strength if given the opportunity.
“I love Nigeria, and I believe that I have what it takes to be a soldier. The Nigerian Army is the pride of the nation, and I have decided to go back to school and ensure that I get the required number of credits to be eligible to apply next year.”
In the testimony of another candidate, who pleaded anonymity because his family members are not aware of his application into the Nigerian Army stated that the Chief of Army Staff is his mentor with the achievements in office.
“ I have friends in the Army and from what they have been saying is that every soldier adores the Chief of Army Staff because he is the best commander in the history of the Nigerian Army. They have always told me that their welfare has improved since he became Chief of Army Staff. There is also local, and foreign training for soldiers and officers and merit is always rewarded so long you are dedicated and committed to your work.”
This medium consequently carried out an analysis of the Nigerian Army recruitment application in the past four years. It was discovered that in the year 2016, the enlistment was oversubscribed by 45%. In 2017, it was oversubscribed by 65%, 2018, 70% in 2019, by 80% and 2020 by 95%.
This alarming rate of oversubscription cuts across recruits and Short Service and Direct Short Service cadre of the Nigerian Army. The case of Short Service and Direct Short Service was indeed one that presented the most challenges as candidates with master’s degree constituted the bulk of the applicants.
According to credible sources, candidates must possess at least a first degree with not less than Second Class Lower Division or HND of not less than Lower Credit in the arts, sciences or humanities from an accredited institution of learning. Courses of study must also be accredited at the time of the study. However, it was gathered that in 2020 recruitment, over 80% of those that applied had a master degree and 5% with PhDs.
This medium was able to interview some of the candidates that applied. It was gathered that the rush for enlistment into the Nigerian Army is a function of professionalism in the Nigerian Army. They were unanimous in stating that the Nigerian Army presents them the avenue to actualize their dreams of contributing to national development.
According to Chinedu Okafor, a graduate of psychology from Imo State University, he stated that it is a dream comes true for him enlisting into the Nigerian Army.
“The interview process was rigorous as we were subjected to a series of examinations. From the onset, I recall that those of us who enlisted for the Direct Short Service was about 15,000 for a 1500 opening. You can be assured that the process was very rigorous, and I thank God that I was able to scale through.”
When asked about his motivation and preference for the Nigerian Army above other services, he stated that the Nigerian Army remains the dream of every Nigerian desirous of serving the country in her trying times.
“We all know that the country is faced with some security challenges, and the efforts of the Nigerian Army have been very pronounced. The Nigerian Army is the face of the war against insurgency and other acts of criminalities in the country. I don’t know of other services, but I tell you that anyone that adorn the Nigerian Army uniform is indeed passionate about the wellbeing of the country and this is the place to be.”
An instructor also corroborated this fact at the Nigerian Army Depot Zaria. He stated that part of the selection process entails that candidates highlight why they want to join the Nigerian Army. The consensus was that the Nigerian Army is a place where human potentials are maximized because of its policies.
“I tell you that in the past four years, we have been under tremendous pressure dealing with the number of applications into the Nigerian Army. It is always a tasking period for us because of the numbers of applicants that yearly submit their applications in their thousands.”
When asked to comment on the rumours making the rounds of soldiers and officers disengaging from the Nigerian Army, he stated that it remains a figment of the imagination.
“The rumour of disengagement is pure mischief. I am not aware of any such happening in the Nigerian Army. I have served in the Nigerian Army for 25 years, and I can tell you that there is no such happening. It is the other way round because more and more people want to enlist into the Nigerian Army. This can be seen in the enlistment figures from 2016 to date. I think it is just mischief and not a reflection of the issues on the ground.”
“We must give credit to the Chief of Army Staff because his leadership style has made the Nigerian Army the preferred destination for young and energetic Nigerians. All of these were made possible because of the level of professionalism that has been put in place in recent times.”
“Yes, you might find one or two applying for disengagement from service, but I can tell you that they constitute those who joined the Nigeria Army with a misplaced motive and priority. If you cannot give 100%, there is no way you can enjoy your stay in the Nigerian Army, and I believe this number is immaterial.”
He further advised Nigerians that are desirous of enlisting into the Nigerian Army to ensure that they are ready to give in their best as there is no room for mediocrity in the present-day Nigerian Army.”
“Those that want to enlist into the Nigerian Army without passion for what the Nigerian Army entails should do well to look elsewhere. The Nigerian Army is an institution with strong values meant for only those with the bigger picture in mind. This is what has changed since Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai assumed leadership.
Terrorism: Nigeria Has Made Giant Strides In Human Rights Compliance, Won’t Be Intimidated By ICC, Amnesty – Human Rights Group
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups (CHRMG) says Nigeria has made significant strides in human rights compliance in the prosecution of the war against terrorism.
The human rights group, which made this known at a press conference on Thursday in Abuja, also noted that the troops have adhered to international best practices in its various operations across the country.
The CHRMG said it arrived at this conclusion after an appraisal of the war against terrorism in the country and the compliance to international conventions by the leadership of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
The coalition’s position invalidates that of Amnesty International and the International Criminal Court which levelled human rights violations against the military.
And Executive Director, Gabriel Agibi, while speaking on behalf of the group, singled out the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai for special praises, adding that he qualifies to be conferred with the highest Human Rights Compliance Award.
According to Agibi, the establishment of human rights desks in all Nigerian Army units and formations to address human rights violations is an illustration of the COAS’ ingenuity.
The coalition, therefore, hailed President Muhammadu Buhari, the Armed Forces’ leadership and the troops for adhering to global standards in human rights preservation.
It, however, warned those peddling false information with regards to the human rights compliance of the military to desist as it serves only as a means of distraction and not a reflection of the reality on the ground.
The CHRMG further urged the troops not to be discouraged by the antics of Amnesty, ICC and their likes.
Read the full statement below:
I welcome you all to this press conference in furtherance of our mandate to give an appraisal of the government’s efforts in the war against terrorism and other acts of militancy in North-East Nigeria and other parts of the country.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups has been actively engaged in ensuring the adherence to international conventions in the preservation of human rights by the Nigerian government and by extension the Armed Forces in its various operations across the length and breadth of the country.
It is indeed a fact that we have been credited to have held the government accountable through the various mechanisms introduced to ensure strict compliance to the rules of engagement in warfare and ensure Nigerians’ rights and privileges are not trampled upon under whatever guise.
It is on this strength we convoked this press conference to give a detailed appraisal of our fact-finding mission on the operations of the Nigerian Armed Forces in the preservation of human rights in its various operations.
We wish to state in unequivocal terms that there has been a considerable improvement in the conduct of the Nigerian Armed Forces regarding human rights and compliance to international conventions, especially in the last five years.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups wishes to put it on record that the Nigerian Army’s operational strategies in the prosecution of the war against terrorism and other acts of criminalities have been outstanding with an excellent rating on human rights compliance. From all our ratings and feedback mechanism, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai leads the pack of military commanders who have displayed an unalloyed commitment to upholding human rights tenets and adherence global best practices in the rules of engagement in warfare. This is on the heels that Operation Lafiya Dole’s organizational composition has in place measures to curb excesses by officers and soldiers in the discharge of their duties.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups also reiterates that President Muhammadu Buhari in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces has been exceptional in ensuring that the Armed Forces’ operations comply with international conventions.
We are using this medium to commend President Muhammadu Buhari and the Armed Forces’ leadership for the exceptional conduct regarding the adhering to global standards in human rights preservation.
The establishment of human rights desks in all Nigerian Army units and formations to address human rights violations is another exemplary display of ingenuity by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai who by all standards qualifies to be conferred with the Highest Human Rights Compliance Awards.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups indeed applauds other Service Chiefs, such as the Chief of Defense Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonishakin, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, the Chief of Defence Intelligence, AVM Mohammed Saliu Usman, the Director-General of the DSS, Yusuf Bichi and the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas for their invaluable contributions in the entrenchment of human rights in Nigeria.
We also wish to use this medium to commend officers and soldiers in the theatre of operations for exhibiting high standards of compliance with regards to the protection of human rights. Their display of professionalism even in the face of provocation is noteworthy and indeed, commendable.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups’ position is that the security agencies engaged in the war against terrorism in Nigeria have exhibited high regard for human rights, which is in line with global best practices.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups is sending a strong message to all those that are at the forefront of peddling false information with regards to the human rights compliance of the Nigerian Armed Forces to desist from such ignoble ventures which by all intent and purposes serves only as a means of distraction and not a reflection of the reality on the ground.
The fact remains that in the past five years, the level of human rights compliance by the Nigerian Armed Forces in the prosecution of the war against insurgency and other militants acts in Nigeria has been commendable. Credit must be given to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonishakin, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai and other heads of security agencies that have been involved directly or indirectly in the prosecution of the war against insurgency in Nigeria.
The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups is by this medium conferring on the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai and other top commanders of the Nigerian Army and the troops the Human Rights Compliance Awards for service to country and humanity.
We also want to use this medium to encourage the Nigerian Armed Forces’ leadership not to rest on their oars and continue to preserve the tenets of human rights in their operations.
Thank you all for your time, and God bless.
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