According to a new report from the Nigeria-based human rights organization Intersociety for Civil Liberty and Rule of Law (Intersociety), nearly 1,500 Christians were killed by Islamist jihadists in Nigeria during the first four months of 2021.
The report also revealed that an estimated 2,200 Christians were abducted within the same time period.
“Nigeria has devastatingly remained the ‘most Christian killed country’ and ‘most dangerous place to be a Christian,’ as well as Africa’s newest hotbed of Islamic Jihad and religious intolerance,” the report states.
Persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA ranks Nigeria at No. 9 on its 2021 World Watch List, an annual report listing the world’s top 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Intersociety points out that the 1,470 Christian killed between January and April exceeded Open Door’s estimated total number of Christians killed in all of 2019—by more than 120.
Over half of the killings were carried out by Muslim Fulani herdsmen, according to the report.
Some argue that the violence stems from land disputes between the herdsmen and Christian farmers, but Illia Djadi, Open Doors’ senior analyst on freedom of religion in sub-Saharan Africa, told Christian Today that this is a “simplistic” view.
“The Fulani militants attack Christian properties and people and churches, but they leave the neighboring Muslim buildings and mosques untouched,” he said. “They are very selective so there is a clear religious dimension and a clear plan to attack Christian communities in the Middle Belt.”
As a result, Nigerian Christians are living in constant fear, said Djadi.
“People all over Nigeria travel fearing they will be kidnapped or attacked. They go to bed fearing they will be kidnapped or attacked. They go to church fearing they will be kidnapped or attacked.”
He asks Christians around the world to pray specifically for the Nigerian churches—that they would be able to provide shelter and practical assistance to those who are displaced or on the run for their lives.
“We want security for all in Nigeria,” he said, “and for Nigeria to be a safe country where people can travel freely and where children can go to school without fear of being kidnapped or killed.”
Above: Men march alongside a truck carrying coffins of people killed by Fulani herdsmen, in Makurdi, Nigeria, January 11, 2018.
Photo: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde/Newscom