Smith introduces bipartisan resolution calling on Biden Administration to redesignate Nigeria as country that violates religious freedom
Smith resolution also calls for President Biden to appoint Special Envoy to Nigeria to monitor and combat atrocities in the region
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, today introduced a bipartisan resolution calling on the Biden Administration to add Nigeria to the State Department’s annual list of countries that violate religious freedom—known as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC)—and appoint a Special Envoy to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region to monitor and combat atrocities in the region.
Smith’s resolution comes in response to Secretary Blinken’s decision to omit Nigeria as a CPC in its 2021 and 2022 International Religious Freedom Reports despite widespread religious persecution plaguing the country.
“The Biden Administration’s totally unjustified decision to retreat from the noble and necessary fight to protect victims of religious persecution puts even more people in jeopardy,” said Smith, who authored the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act and has chaired multiple congressional hearings on what is unfolding in Nigeria.
“Last year alone, 5,014 Christians were killed in Nigeria—accounting for nearly 90 percent of Christian deaths worldwide as well 90 percent of Christian kidnappings across the globe,” said Smith, citing a report by the religious freedom watchdog Open Doors International.
“You can’t give President Buhari a passing grade when he has utterly failed to protect religious freedom, including and especially that of Christians,” said Smith, who has led three human rights trips to Nigeria over the years to advocate for those persecuted for their faith.
“The failure to hold Buhari to account—and even reward him by withdrawing the CPC designation—will only embolden Fulani militants,” said Smith. “The Biden Administration must act immediately and redesignate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern to mitigate this alarming and growing threat to religious liberty, especially given the upcoming presidential elections.”
Nigeria’s presidential elections are slated for February 25th. In a departure from customary practice, the All Progressives Congress nominated two Muslims to its presidential ticket—including vice presidential candidate Kashim Shettima, whose past tenure as governor of Borno State was criticized for failing to adequately address jihadi violence perpetrated by Boko Haram.