Nigeria needs religious freedom, says Ortom

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has called for religious freedom for all Nigerians.

Ortom, however, noted that Nigeria, as a country, was under siege due to the activities of terrorists with the attendant bombing of churches and killing of clergy and worshippers.

He said such attacks were aimed at sending fear to the living to restrict their religious freedom.

Ortom stated this in London when he addressed Nigerians in Diaspora and friends of Nigeria at the Freedom of Religion and Belief International Ministerial Fringe Events on Nigeria organised by Para-Mallam Peace Foundation and the International Peace-Building and Social Justice.

In a statement on Friday by his Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Affairs, Peter Ichull, the governor maintained that freedom is humanity’s most valuable commodity, and equally, its most contested.

“It was for this reason that every just and progressive society must uphold certain freedoms for all people as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human rights, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the constitutions of most nations, including Nigeria, and other rights’ documents,” Ortom added.

The governor challenged Nigerians in the Diaspora to use the international environment with its free press to draw attention to problems in their country and speak against religious extremism.

To solve the intractable security problems, Ortom said his state was forced to enact the ‘Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017’ and other security measures.

Responding, 85-year-old Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of Parliament (House of Lords) observed that the invitation to Governor Ortom to address such an important gathering was justified as his voice on topical issues in Nigeria had gained international recognition.

She, however, lamented that the British government’s reports on the problems affecting Nigeria were too mild and far from reality, saying, “the report so far is a government position and not adequate” and thanked independent researchers and other public-spirited organisations who had taken the responsibility of unearthing the truth about happenings in Nigeria.

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