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Nigeria Facts

Score: 77 / 100
Region: Africa
Persecution Type: Islamic Oppression
Persecution Level: Very High
Population: 191,836,000
Christians: 88,906,000
Main Religion: Christianity, Islam
Government: Federal Presidential Republic
Leader: President Maj. Gen. (ret.) Muhammadu Buhari

Profile of Persecution Methodology

Violence 99%
Church Life 73%
National Life 72%
Community Life 79%
Family Life 69%
Private Life 70%

Where Persecution Comes From

Much of the Christian persecution in Nigeria is the result of radical Islamic teaching and activity. Islam is the dominant religion in the north of the country, while Christianity is dominant in the south. Ongoing rivalries between ethnic groups contribute to the persecution of Christians who are caught in the crossfire. Meanwhile, radical groups, such as Boko Haram and Muslim Fulani herdsmen, heavily persecute believers in the northern and Middle Belt regions. Criminal groups engaged in human and drug trafficking also contribute to the persecution, and corruption at all levels of government only adds to the danger for believers.

How Christians are Suffering

In the southern part of Nigeria, Christians experience religious freedom. However, in the northern and Middle Belt regions, they suffer from violence perpetrated by Islamic militant groups. Death, physical injury and loss of property are commonplace, as well as loss of land and livelihood. In northern Nigeria, society as a whole treats Christians as second-class citizens who deserve to be discriminated against and excluded. Christians from Muslim backgrounds also face persecution from their own families who reject and pressure them to renounce Christianity. To make matters worse, corruption has made the government ill-equipped to protect Christians from violent attack.


In May 2016, church leaders in Kebbi State governed by Sharia (Islamic) law were arrested and sentenced to three years in prison. This arrest happened after local Muslim vigilantes had violently disrupted worship at their church, claiming church leaders built it without a permit.

In the same area, Christians have been facing pressure from Muslim evangelists to renounce their faith to get funding for wells, schools, and clinics. One Christian villager shared that his son died because doctors were only willing to offer treatment if he converted to Islam.

In November 2016, raids conducted by suspected Muslim Hausa-Fulani herdsmen killed 45 people, mostly Christians, in southern Kaduna State in the Middle Belt region.
In July 2017, a gunman attacked a church in the city of Onitsha in southern Nigeria, killing 12 and injuring 18.

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Pray for Nigeria

  • Pray with Nigerian Christians for their protection, particularly for women at risk of being abducted and forced to marry Muslim men.
  • Pray for comfort for the thousands of displaced Nigerian Christians and for wisdom for Open Doors partners as they serve these communities.
  • In the northern states of Nigeria with a Muslim majority, Christian communities are neglected and often left without clean water, clinics and roads. Ask God to provide for their physical needs.

Stories from Nigeria

October 16, 2018

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Boko Haram sect releases a video of a second execution and also threatens to keep 15-year-old Christian schoolgirl Leah Sharibu…


October 13, 2018

As Deadline Looms for Leah Sharibu, Mother Makes Urgent Plea for Help

Last week, the mother of Leah Sharibu took desperate steps, traveling to Jos to hold a press conference to bring her…


September 18, 2018

Boko Haram Threatens to Kill Leah Sharibu—Open Doors Calls for Urgent Prayer

Open Doors is calling for urgent prayer as news breaks of Boko Haram's threat to kill kidnapped Nigerian Christian teenager…