The Presidency on Monday knocked the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan-Kukah, and other Nigerians “going to America, going to feed them with incorrect positions about what is happening in the country.”
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, made this known on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ breakfast programme monitored by UGAMATV
Adesina made the comment when he hailed the United States for removing Nigeria from its 2021 list of religious violators.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a statement last Wednesday, had blacklisted Russia, China and eight other countries as religious violators, leaving out Nigeria which was placed on the same list of ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ on the issue of freedom of religion in 2020.
Blinken, who was later in Abuja last Thursday and Friday, reportedly told the Nigerian President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), that the delisting of Nigeria from the list of religious violators was based on facts.
Many Nigerians and groups including the Christian Association of Nigeria, have since faulted the removal of Nigeria from the list, insisting that Christians are still being persecuted in the country amid an alleged plot to Islamise Nigeria.
However, speaking on the television programme on Monday, Adesina said Nigeria has no business being on the list in the first instance but blamed some individuals for running to the US to state “incorrect positions”.
The presidential aide, who did not mention the names of Nigerians “feeding” the US with “incorrect positions”, made a veiled reference to Kukah, and other critics of his principal who have cried out to the US for help in recent times.
Kukah, a fiery critic of the Buhari regime, had in a virtual appearance before the US Congress in July 2021, accused Buhari of nepotism and of making key appointments that favoured individuals of his faith (Islam), an allegation the Presidency had denied.
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Speaking on the removal of Nigeria from the watchlist, Adesina said, “Nigeria being taken off the watchlist of countries that repress religion. Very good, the Secretary (Blinken) spoke about it: he said America did it when they found out that putting Nigeria on the watchlist was not based on facts and we know the things that happened; Nigerians themselves going to America, going to feed them with incorrect positions about what is happening in the country. That was why Nigeria was put on that watchlist but when America discovered that it was not based on facts, Nigeria was removed from the watchlist. It is a very good development for us.”
When contacted for comments, Rev. Fr Christopher Omotosho, the Director, Social Communications of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto on Monday said that the Adesina does not deserve a response.
Omotosho also told our correspondent that at the appropriate time, Kukah would speak on the removal of Nigeria from the list of religious violators.
The respected Christian cleric and unsparing critic of the Buhari regime has been having a running battle with the current government which came into power in 2015.