Five American Senators have asked US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to re-designate Nigeria as a country of very high concern (CPC).
In December In 2020, the US included Nigeria among the countries blacklisted for “violating religious freedom” under the designation CPC.
However, in November 2021, Nigeria was removed from the List.
In a letter dated June 29, 2022, senators questioned why Nigeria was “inexplicably” removed “despite no demonstrable improvement in the country’s religious freedom conditions” .
They led the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State and the lynching of Deborah Samuel, a student at Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto , as cases of “religious persecution” in Nigeria.
The Se nators who signed the letter are Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio, Mike Braun, James Inhofe and Tom Cotton.
“As you know, the last few weeks have been terrible committed acts of deadly violence against Nigerian Christians, including the massacre of churchgoers on Whit Sunday and the stoning of a Christian college student. Unfortunately, such violence has become all too familiar to Christians in Africa’s most populous country,” reads the letter.
“However, last year you inexplicably missed Nigeria’s listing as a country of very high concern ( Country of Particular Concern (CPC) despite the lack of evidence that conditions for religious freedom in the country have improved.
< p class="align-left">“On the contrary, the situation in Nigeria has deteriorated. We have previously urged you to immediately reverse your misguided decision, and we are writing to you today to renew our appeal.
“Recent high-profile acts of violence underscore intense religious persecution , which is regularly witnessed by Nigerian Christians.
“On Pentecost Sunday, gunmen attacked the St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo state, Nigeria, killing at least 50 churchgoers, according to reports.
“Last month, a violent mob brutally stoned to death Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu, a student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in northwestern Nigeria.
“According to reports, some Islamist students were angry about a “blasphemous” message Deborah posted in a WhatsApp group, saying that “Jesus Christ is the greatest. He helped me pass my exams.
“Merely professing the Christian faith appears to amount to a death sentence in many parts of Nigeria. Religious violence and intolerance against Nigerian Christians has intensified in recent years.
“A report documented more than 4,650 cases of Nigerian Christians killed for their faith in 2021 . Nigeria has the dubious honor of being – for the second year in a row – the deadliest country on earth for Christians.
“Make no mistake: continued enforcement of state-sanctioned blasphemy laws enables the kind of deadly violence that killed Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu and so many others.
“When we wrote to you earlier, we received a response that our questions as to why did not replied the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not consider Nigeria to be involved in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” or even “grave violations of religious freedom.”
“Given the miserable state of religious freedom in Nigeria, it behooves you to reflect on last year’s decision and re-appoint the country as a CPC. The moment demands that you do so without delay. We look forward to your swift action on this important matter.”