Federal Presidential Republic
President Muhammadu Buhari
Persecution in Nigeria is, simply put, brutally violent. In much of northern Nigeria, Christians live their lives under the constant threat of attack from Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), Fulani militants and criminals who kidnap and murder with few consequences. While all citizens of northern Nigeria are subject to threats and violence, Christians are often specifically targeted because of their faith—ISWAP and Boko Haram want to eliminate the Christian presence in Nigeria, and Muslim Fulani militants attack Christian villages specifically. In addition to the violence risks, Christians in some of Nigeria’s northern states also live under Shariah law, where they face discrimination and treatment as second-class citizens. Christians who convert from Islam also face rejection from their families, often pressured to recant their faith in Jesus; sometimes, they are even violently attacked.
“When I lost my husband, my in-laws never cared about me; they didn’t come to check on me or the children. When [our daughter] Patience died, I thought they would rally around me, but nobody came. I felt so pained in my heart … But I decided to let go of my bitterness and let God heal me.”
Christians continue to be attacked indiscriminately and brutally in northern Nigeria, and Nigeria’s rank has risen accordingly. The violence has continued unabated—one of the only places in the world where COVID-19 travel restrictions and lockdowns had little impact on attacks against Christians. Christians in northern Nigeria remain at risk of daily pressure and discrimination, as well. The attacks and insecurity have also spread to southern Nigeria. Fulani militants and other violent actors have settled into southern forests, making it difficult for Christian farmers to access their land.
In many ways, vulnerability depends on where in Nigeria a Christian lives. Remote villages in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region are at risk of attacks from Fulani militants or other violent actors, and these attacks have even spread into southern Nigeria. In the northeast, any community of believers is at risk of attack from Boko Haram or ISWAP. Because of the violence, thousands of Christians are forced to live in formal or informal camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). This situation contributes to the vulnerability, because people who have lost their home or loved ones are now effectively refugees within their own country. Women and girls tend to have higher levels of vulnerability as well—and anyone who converts from Islam to Christianity is likely most vulnerable of all.
Open Doors partners with the local church in northern Nigeria to strengthen, support, equip and provide assistance to persecuted believers through trauma counseling (including a trauma center), Bibles and discipleship training, socio-economic aid, literacy projects and worldwide prayer support.