Nigeria’s federal government has objected to its inclusion on the list of governments that engages in religious freedom violations by the United States government, arguing that it protects religious freedom jealously.

The US had on Monday, designated Nigeria, Burma (now called Myanmar), Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia among others, as countries of concern under International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for engaging systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations.

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo who announced the designation, said the U.S. is unwavering in its commitment to religious freedom. Pompeo maintained that no country or entity should be allowed to persecute people with impunity because of their beliefs.

But reacting in a statement on Tuesday, Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, described the allegation as a case of “honest disagreement between the two nations on the causes of violence in Nigeria”.

”Nigeria does not engage in religious freedom violation, neither does it have a policy of religious persecution,” he said.

“Victims of insecurity and terrorism in the country are adherents of Christianity, Islam and other religions.”

The minister said the country “jealously protects religious freedom as enshrined in the country’s constitution and takes seriously any infringements in this regard”.