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Nigeria Facts

Score: 80/ 100
Region: Africa
Persecution Type: Islamic oppression
Persecution Level: Very High
Population: 200,962,000
Christians: 93,791,000
Main Religion: Christianity, Islam
Government: Federal presidential republic
Leader: President Maj. Gen. (ret.) Muhammadu Buhari

Profile of Persecution

Violence 99%
Church Life 78%
National Life 77%
Community Life 81%
Family Life 72%
Private Life 73%

Extremist attacks and religious oppression

Christians in the northern region and in the Middle Belt suffer from violence perpetrated by Islamic extremist groups such as militant Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram. Such violence often results in loss of life, physical injury, as well as loss of property. As a result of the violence, Christians are also being dispossessed of their land and means of livelihood—and Christians with a Muslim background also face rejection from their own families.

A restrictive part of the country

In some northern states, increasing numbers of Christians are dressing like Muslims to make their faith less obvious and reduce the chances of attack. Young Christians in these states are frequently denied access to higher education, and Christians have been asked to give up their faith in order to obtain work. Applications for permits to build churches are ignored.

The situation is especially difficult for converts from Islam to Christianity. They usually are assisted in underground locations for fear of being persecuted or even killed. In the north they often have to flee their homes and even the state. This is far less likely to occur in the south.

Recent examples of persecution

February 2019 in Gusau, Zamfara State: Bandits abducted and killed an Anglican priest from the Diocese of Sokoto. His wife and children were also abducted and their whereabouts are unknown.

In April 2019 in Madagali, Adamawa State: At about 5:40 p.m., Boko Haram fighters invaded predominantly Christian Kuda community in Madagali Local Government Area (LGA) of Adamawa State. Over 30 houses were set on fire and 23 people were killed, 20 of whom were Christians. Residents left the village to seek refuge in Gulak and other relatively safer parts of Adamawa State.

August 2019 in Lau LGA, Taraba State: A conflict between a radical Fulani herder and a farmer was the trigger for attacks and reprisal acts that continued for weeks and resulted in 65 deaths (most of them Christians) and 18 burned villages (with 15 churches, two elementary schools and a health centers destroyed). Security forces that were deployed in the area did not intervene; on the contrary, in June 2019 many youth were arrested during protests against the violence and inaction of the local authorities.

In Riyom, Plateau State in September 2019, three internally displaced Christians were killed by gunmen. Their community had been destroyed by Fulani militants in 2018, and they were still being hosted in other communities. However, the villagers, who wanted to return to their own village, had started to rebuild their houses. For weeks a group of young men would guard their properties at night and monitor security in the area. Three of them were ambushed.

In early October 2019, in Chikun, Kaduna State, Fulani-speaking gunmen kidnapped six school girls and two teachers from Engravers College Kakau, a Christian-run high school. The abductors stormed the boarding school around midnight, when most of the students and teachers were asleep. The victims were released after a ransom was paid. In the last few years, armed groups have perpetrated countless abductions along the Kaduna-Abuja highway for ransom, and in the process killed some of their victims. But this is the first time a school was involved.

Population and number of Christian statistics: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2019).

 

Pray for Nigeria

  • The violence against Christians by militant Islamic groups in the north often ends in loss of life and physical injury as well as loss of property. Pray for those dealing with the effects of recent violence against them. Please pray for the Lord’s provision in in all their physical and spiritual needs.
  • Thousands of women remain in Boko Haram captivity. Pray for their liberation. Pray for those who have been freed or managed to escape to receive proper physical and emotional care.
  • Thank the Lord that most Christians in the southern part of the country live in an environment in which their religious freedom is respected. Pray for greater engagement from the Church in South with the Church in northern parts of the country.
  • Pray the Nigerian church will be able to withstand pressure to give up the faith and have the grace to respond to their challenges in a way that glorifies Christ.

Stories from Nigeria

August 23, 2020

DENIED!—8 places where starving Christians are refused government relief

For Christians who are mostly day laborers and are already unable to access local services because they have been “boycotted” by their village, the pandemic has given way to another layer of persecution. Read More

+ READ MORE

July 28, 2020

Violence and COVID-19 turn African Christians into ‘endangered species’

A lethal combination of attacks and coronavirus food shortages is crippling the church in Nigeria and throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Read More

+ READ MORE

July 27, 2020

Seeing this Nigerian woman rake the ground for relief scraps should shake us all

In this video, a pastor from Kaduna State shares what he’s seeing and hearing both firsthand and from Christians in the area who are in desperate need of food support during COVID-19. Read More

+ READ MORE

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