Over 8,000 Nigerian Christians Killed In 2023 By Islamic Jihadists

Burial for victims of Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacks near Bokkos, Nigeria
Burial for victims of Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacks near Bokkos, Nigeria

More than 8,000 Christians were reportedly killed in Nigeria in 2023 amid a rise in attacks, abductions, and killings in recent years, according to estimates included in a report released last week by a civil society organization.

The Anambra-based International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), an organization headed by Christian criminologist Emeka Umeagbalasi that has been very critical of the Nigerian government, reports that at least 8,222 Christians were killed across Nigeria from January 2023 to January 2024.

The organization relies on what it deems to be credible media reports, government accounts, reports from international rights groups and eyewitness accounts to compile statistical data.

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Intersociety attributes the deaths to various extremist groups, including radicalized Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram and others, with a notable number of victims also resulting from actions by Nigerian security forces.

States like Benue, Plateau, Kaduna and Niger bore the brunt of these attacks, with thousands of Christians abducted and hundreds of churches destroyed or attacked, Intersociety says.

“Through the deceitful and camouflaged ‘internal military operations,’ the Fulani Jihadists were militarily protected to invade southern and middle belt farmlands, bushes and forests,” the NGO charges. “This is to the extent that, today, the highest concentration of the Fulani Herdsmen’s jihadist terror activities in the South and the Middle-Belt and other Christian-held areas in the North are found near military or other security formations.”

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Intersociety reports that Benue state experienced the most Christian deaths, with 1,450 fatalities, followed closely by Plateau state with 1,400. Kaduna and Niger states also saw significant losses, with 822 and 730 Christians killed, respectively. In addition to the loss of life, the report highlights the abduction of over 8,400 Christians nationwide, with a distressing number of these individuals never returning alive.

The violence has led to attacks on 500 churches in 2023 alone, contributing to a total of 18,500 churches attacked since 2009.

The report also notes the abduction of 70 Christian clerics within the year, with at least 25 killed. These attacks have not only targeted individuals but have also devastated communities, with over 300 Christian communities reportedly sacked in 2023.

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The scale of displacement is alarming, with millions of internally displaced persons generated, particularly in states like Benue.

The number of deaths provided by Intersociety is doubled the number suggested by other watchdogs also raising the warning flag about religious freedom conditions in Nigeria who use more conservative estimates. Still, the more conservative figures suggest an alarming rate of violence happening in Nigeria.

Nigeria remained one of the deadliest place in the world to follow Christ, with 4,118 people killed for their faith from Oct. 1, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2023, according to Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List (WWL) report. More kidnappings of Christians than in any other country also took place in Nigeria, with 3,300.

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Nigeria was also the third highest country in number of attacks on churches and other Christian buildings such as hospitals, schools, and cemeteries, with 750, according to the report.

In the 2024 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria was ranked No. 6, as it was in the previous year.

Source: The Christian Post

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