Jonathan addresses UN General Assembly, condemns denigration of religious beliefs

President Goodluck Jonathan
in New York, addressed the 67th General
Assembly of the United Nations, saying
the freedom of expression and religious
tolerance should be complimentary to
each other for the peaceful coexistence of
people of different faiths and religious
Mr Jonathan also condemned the deliberate
denigration of the religious beliefs of others;
stressing that freedom of expression should
never be construed as a licence for actions that
may lead to violence and disorder.
Speaking against the background of recent
protests in Nigeria and other parts of the world
over the publication on the internet of a video
which denigrates Prophet Mohammed, the
President according to a statement by his
Special Adviser of Media and Publicity, Reuben
Abati said, “Events of recent weeks have
demonstrated how interconnected our world is
and the extent to which one incident can spark
off general mayhem and conflagration.
“Freedom of expression should not be a licence
to incitement. The freedom that we all hold dear
and true should be exercised wisely and
cautiously. Freedom of expression and religious
tolerance must not be mutually exclusive but
should be complimentary to each other.
“Much as we eschew violence and deplore the
needless losses of lives and destruction of
property, we also condemn the deliberate
denigration of religious beliefs and sensitivities
which in turn lead to counter reactions,” Mr
Jonathan said.
Fighting terrorism
President Jonathan told the UN assembly that
his administration has adopted a multi-faceted
strategy in dealing with the threats of terrorism
and militancy.
“Our response has been multi-faceted, as we
seek to address the root causes of these threats,
exploring opportunities for dialogue, improving
law enforcement to ensure public safety and
“International cooperation has also been a key
factor in tackling our security challenges. We
have signed agreements with our neighbours,
Cameroon, Niger and Chad bilaterally, and
multilaterally, on the platform of the Lake Chad
Basin Commission.
“These efforts are aimed at safeguarding the
security of our individual countries and denying
terrorists the use of our region as sanctuary. We
are confident that these measures will stem the
flow and access to small arms and light
weapons, which have indeed become Africa’s
weapon of mass destruction,” he said.
President Jonathan it is important to establish a
conflict Mediation Commission under the Office
of the Secretary-General to further strengthen
the peace building initiatives of the United
“Experience elsewhere gives us reason to
believe that there is value in the creation of this
mechanism. Nigeria stands ready to work with
other countries to make the protection of
innocent civilians caught in conflict situations a
priority of the United Nations,” he said.
The President called for the adoption of a global,
legally-binding arms trade treaty, saying that it
would galvanise the international community to
regulate the transfer of conventional weapons
and curb the illicit trade in small arms and light
“There is no doubt that the absence of a global
consensus to control the flow of such weapons,
including small arms and light weapons, is
fuelling conflicts, constraining growth and
development and increasing human rights
violations,” he said.
On other matters, the President said that the
imperatives of achieving the Millennium
Development Goals by 2015 are still top
priorities for his Administration.
“We shall intensify efforts to ensure that the
health- and education-related aspects of the
MDGs are addressed continuously to ensure
their successful implementation. While we have
made considerable progress on basic education
and poverty alleviation, challenges remain in
the areas of maternal and infant mortality. We
will not rest on our oars until further progress is
made in these areas,” he said.

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