America warns Buhari; release El Zakzaky, prevent religious crisis

    The American government at the weekend warned of a “grave threat” to religious liberty in Nigeria which requires the urgent attention of the President Mohammadu Buhari administration.

    Giving the warning, State Department Spokesman, John Kirby said, “The right to freedom of worship is a cherished constitutional right” in Nigeria that must be protected.

    “Respect for the rule of law and the civil rights of all-segments of society are a hallmark of democracy.

    “As the White Paper notes, we encourage the people and the government of Nigeria to support these fundamental principles, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or region.”

    We also encourage the federal government to act on the Abuja high court’s decision on December 2 that IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife should be released from prison within 45 days, as they have been held without charge since the events of last December.”

    “On December 5th, the Kaduna State Government in Nigeria issued a long-awaited White Paper on clashes last year that resulted in the deaths of a reported 348 civilians and one soldier.

    “We fully agree with the White Paper’s recommendation that members of the military who were involved in the unlawful killing of civilians must be held accountable and punished appropriately.

    “As the one-year anniversary of this tragic event
    approaches, we call on the federal government to be diligent, transparent, and expeditious in following through on this recommendation.”

    “We are concerned by the White Paper’s characterization of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) as an “insurgent group,”

    “We urge the Nigerian government at every level to seek pathways for non-violent engagement with all citizens, including minority religious groups.

    “We note reports that the IMN has taken actions that have undermined public order and safety.

    “We call on the IMN to respect public order and cooperate with law enforcement authorities as they carry out their lawful duties.”

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