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Nigeria Facts

Score: 80/ 100
Region: Africa
Persecution Type: Islamic Oppression
Persecution Level: Very High
Population: 195,875,000
Christians: 91,122,000
Main Religion: Christianity, Islam
Government: Federal Presidential Republic
Leader: President Maj. Gen. (ret.) Muhammadu Buhari

Profile of Persecution

Violence 99%
Church Life 77%
National Life 77%
Community Life 80%
Family Life 70%
Private Life 57%

Seemingly constant violence

Nigeria’s score for violence has stayed as high as possible, primarily due to the increased attacks on Christian communities by Hausa-Fulani Islamic militant herdsmen. These attacks claimed the lives of hundreds of believers during the reporting period, and scores of villages and churches were burned to the ground. Additionally, in parts of northern Nigeria, Christians are treated as second-class citizens with individuals from Muslim backgrounds facing Chrisitan persecution from their own families.

How Christians are suffering

Most Christians in the southern part of the country live in an environment in which their religious freedom is respected. However, Christians in the north and in the Middle Belt suffer from violence perpetrated by militant Islamic groups. Such violence often results in the loss of life and physical injury, as well as loss of property. As a result of the violence, Christians are also dispossessed of their land and means of livelihood. Christians in northern Nigeria, especially in the Sharia states, face discrimination and exclusion as second-class citizens. Christians with a Muslim background also face rejection from their own families and pressure to give up Christianity.

Corruption has weakened the state, making it ill-equipped to protect Christians from the violence perpetrated by groups like Boko Haram. Sometimes, churches are used as vehicles for money-laundering. Churches that are perceived to be associated with such criminal activity (i.e. receiving donations from criminal benefactors) often end up being targets of crime-related violence.

Examples

On February 17, 2014 Boko Haram militants attacked a Christian farming village in Borno State. The attack, in which 106 people were killed, specifically targeted male residents of the Christian community.

On April 24, 2018, militant Fulani herdsmen attacked a Catholic church in Benue State during a morning service, killing two priests and 17 parishioners. After the “shooting rampage,” the attackers reportedly “descended on the community and razed over 60 houses, farmland, food barns, after carting away what the people had in their barns.”

On June 23, 2018, 120 Christians were killed by Fulani militants in Plateau State, as they returned from attending a funeral.

 

 

Pray for Nigeria

  • Pray for Christians in the middle of Nigeria, who are facing increased hostility and attacks from Fulani militants.
  • Sharia law has been implemented in 12 northern states and Christians there face marginalization and discrimination. Pray that these Christians would not be discouraged. Pray they will not be tempted to give up the faith in pursuit of an easier life.
  • Pray for Fulani militants, the members of Boko Haram and other extremist groups. Pray that God will touch their hearts with His truth.
  • Despite the challenges, the Church continues to grow in Nigeria. Pray for wisdom, courage and true servanthood for pastors as they seek to serve these believers who often face challenges. Pray they will have the necessary resources to lead their congregations to full knowledge of God, filled with hope and endurance.
  • Often, the government of Nigeria has been accused of being slow or unwilling to address attacks against Christians. Pray for courage and for peace.
  • Open Doors partners with the local church to strengthen, support and equip persecuted believers in northern Nigeria. Pray that these efforts will glorify God. Pray for strength, protection and godly wisdom for workers as they interact with the broken-hearted. Pray their compassionate care will assure our brothers and sisters they are loved and never alone.

Stories from Nigeria

August 12, 2019

8,000 children abducted by Boko Haram—pray for the children of Nigeria

All of the Nigerian children in these images have been persecuted by extremists—mostly Boko Haram. Read More

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July 26, 2019

Breaking: Open Doors responds to unconfirmed reports that Leah Sharibu has been killed

Open Doors is investigating unconfirmed reports that Leah Sharibu, Boko Haram kidnapping victim, has been killed. Read More

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July 11, 2019

Inside Boko Haram kidnappings: How one woman endured–and forgave

In the midst of her tears, Esther, a former captive of Boko Haram, has found hope in God's promises and a baby named Rebecca. Read More

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