THE United States on Wednesday removed Nigeria from its list of countries with religious freedom concerns, just a day before Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in the country as part of a tour of Africa.
The omission drew a sharp rebuke from a US government commission that had recommended the Biden administration keep Nigeria as a so-called country of particular concern for engaging in or tolerating violations of religious freedom.
On Wednesday, Blinken made an annual announcement on the countries on the list which include: Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. He also placed Algeria, Comoros, Cuba and Nicaragua on a watch list for religious freedom, and designated armed groups, including Islamic State and several of its affiliates, as entities of concern.
But Nigeria, which was added to the list for the first time in 2020, was not redesignated.
According to Reuters, Blinken is expected to arrive in Abuja on Thursday, where he is set to meet with officials including President Muhammadu Buhari and deliver a speech on U.S. Africa policy.