On Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan promised to engage state governors who discriminate based on the religious beliefs of the citizens of their states.
Jonathan spoke while receiving the report of the Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor-led Federal Government delegation to the 2012 Christian Pilgrimage to Holy Land at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
While saying 16,372 Nigerians took part in the pilgrimage, Oritsejafor had earlier told the President that some state governments from the northern part of the country did not sponsor any pilgrim for the exercise. He named the affected states to include Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Benue and Gombe.
Though he said some pilgrims from Benue State are currently in the holy land.
Jonathan said although the Federal Government cannot force any state government to sponsor pilgrims if they do not want to do so, such decision not to sponsor pilgrims must affect both Christian and Muslim pilgrimages and not one alone.
"Government cannot force state governments to sponsor pilgrims if they don't want to do so. If they decide to pull out from sponsoring pilgrims, there is nothing we can do. But if some state governments are sponsoring pilgrims of one religion and leaving out the other, that is against the law. Nigeria is a secular state and so nobody should be discriminated against based on religious belief," he said.
The President said he would engage the state governors on the need to ensure that adherents of all religions in their states are treated equally and fairly.