“Nigeria has fully become a killing field of defenseless Christians.”
A Nigerian civil society organization claims that no fewer than 350 Christians have been killed across the West African country since the start of 2020 and estimates that about 11,500 Christians have been killed since 2015.
“Nigeria has fully become a killing field of defenseless Christians,” the Anambra-based nongovernmental organization International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) said this week in a new special report, titled “Nigeria: A Killing Field Of Defenseless Christians.”
“Available statistics have shown that between 11,500 and 12,000 Christian deaths were recorded in the past 57 months or since June 2015 when the present central government of Nigeria came on board. Out of this figure, Jihadist Fulani herdsmen accounted for 7,400 Christian deaths, Boko Haram 4,000 and the ‘Highway Bandits’ 150-200.”
The organization, which is headed by Christian criminologist Emeka Umeagbalasi, has monitored violence against Christians in Nigeria since 2010 through a team of criminologists, lawyers, journalists, security, and peace and conflict studies graduates.
Nigeria has been marred by violence in the last decade-plus due to the rise of extremist organizations in the northeast like Boko Haram and its splinter group, the Islamic State’s West Africa Province.
In recent years, massacres carried out by radicalized Fulani herders against predominantly Christian farming villages in Nigeria’s Middle Belt have also driven communities from their homes.
Additionally, bandit gangs have been responsible for carrying out kidnappings along some major highways.
The United Nations estimates that about 2 million people have been internally displaced across Nigeria and 11 million people in need of assistance. An additional 550,000 are said to be displaced in neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
“While 100 percent of the victims of Jihadist Herdsmen attacks across Nigeria are Christians, the estimated 4,000 Christians killed by Boko Haram were part of the estimated 6,000 [people in total] massacred by the sect since June 2015,” the report explains.
“Generally, many, if not most of the victims of Boko Haram/ISWAP attacks in Nigeria’s Northeast are Christians. On the part of ‘Bandits/Highway Kidnappers’ in Northern Nigeria, most of their rural victims are Muslims while many, if not most, of their roadside victims are Christians traveling to northern or southern parts of the country using the Birnin-Gwari Federal Road, near Kaduna, etc.”
For its monitoring and documentation, Intersociety relies on what it deems to be credible local and foreign media reports, government accounts, international rights groups, eyewitness accounts and reports from various Christian bodies in the country.
Intersociety reports that Fulani herdsmen accounted for 250 of the 350 deaths recorded in January and February 2020 while Boko Haram and highway bandit gangs are responsible for 100 deaths.
In the past two months, Intersociety reports that radical Fulani militants have carried out attacks in Nasarawa, Adamawa and Edo in addition to some other locations throughout the country.
Last year, Intersociety reported that no fewer than 2,400 Christians were killed by Fulani radicals in 2018. In 2019, according to the group, between 1,000 to 1,200 Christians were killed by Fulani attackers.
While reports have indicated an increase in deadly Boko Haram attacks beginning in December 2019, Intersociety noted that Boko Haram attacks targeting Christians since January 2020 intensified in Borno, Adamawa and Taraba States.
“[The attacks are] claiming between 50 and 70 Christian lives and loss of churches and other buildings belonging to Christians,” the report explains, adding that Boko Haram was responsible for killing at least 1,000 citizens in 2019.
Additionally, between 100 and 150 Christian travelers were said to have been abducted on highways since the beginning of the year.
“The killings targeted at Christians in Nigeria have continued into the first week of March 2020 leading to hacking to death of over a dozen more,” the report reads. “Among the worst hit in the latest round of Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen attacks are Plateau State with 70-80 deaths, Kaduna [with] 50 deaths, Kogi [with] 30 deaths, Benue [with] 15-20, Delta [with] 16 and Taraba [with] 10.”
Nigeria ranks as the 12th-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List.
In the past 57 months, no fewer than 20 clergymen (including eight Catholic priests and seminarians) have been hacked to death, while no less than 50 were abducted or kidnapped, Intersociety reported.
Earlier this year, Boko Haram kidnapped and then executed the Rev. Lawan Andimi, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria’s chapter in the Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa state.
Last December, the U.S. State Department listed Nigeria on its “special watch list,” designating it among countries that have “severe violations of religious freedom” because of the Nigerian government’s inability to thwart an increase in violence and abductions carried out in various areas of the country.
“We are designating [Nigeria] special watch list for the first time because of all of the increasing violence and communal activity and the lack of effective government response and the lack of judicial cases being brought forward in that country,” U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback told reporters in December.
“It is a dangerous situation in too many parts of Nigeria. The government has either not been willing to or have been ineffective in their response and the violence continues to grow.”
The U.K.-based nongovernmental organization Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust issued a report in November claiming that at least 1,000 Christians were killed by Fulani and Boko Haram extremists in 2019 while as many as 6,000 have been killed since 2015.
Would you pray for Christians living in Nigeria? Please pray they will receive peace and comfort, and that one day they’ll be able to practice their faith openly without fear of death.
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