(OSV News) – At least 52,250 people have been killed over the last 14 years in Nigeria just for being Christian, a new report has revealed.
The report, titled “Martyred Christians in Nigeria” and published by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), which is headquartered in Eastern Nigeria, says 30,250 of those have been killed since 2015, when President Muhhamadu Buhari came to power. The report blames what it calls Buhari’s radical Islamism for those killings. Approximately 34,000 moderate Muslims were also butchered or hacked to death within the same period.
At this point, 2023 is not looking any better, with the report revealing that 1041 “defenceless Christians” were slaughtered in the first 100 days – that is from January 1 to April 10. Within the same period, at least 707 Christians were kidnapped.
The report further indicates that under President Buhari, 18,000 Christian churches and 2200 Christian schools were incinerated.
The attacks on Christians have also led to significant problems with regard to people being forced to flee from their homes. While more than 50 million Christians, mostly in Northern Nigeria, face “serious jihadist threats for being professed Christians”, no fewer than “14 million have been uprooted and 8 million forced to flee their homes to avoid being hacked to death”, the report says.
About “5 million have been displaced and forced into Internally Displaced Peoples’ (IDP) camps within Nigeria and refugee camps at regional and sub-regional borders”.
The sheer number of Christians and moderate Muslims killed or displaced has sent chills down the spines of many, including Andrew Boyd, spokesman for Release International, which serves the persecuted church in some 30 countries. He described the report’s finding as “a staggering death toll”.
“It is absolutely appalling that so many Christians are being targeted for their faith and killed in Nigeria, while the Nigerian government seems to stand by and let it happen. It is no less appalling that the international community appears content to stay on the sidelines and watch,” he told OSV News.
“Not only do Nigeria’s Christians face slaughter at the hands of Boko Haram and Islamic State, they are being killed daily by well-armed Fulani extremists,” Boyd told OSV News, referring to Fulani pastoralist people who have joined Islamist extremist groups.
He warned that there could be “a mass exodus of Christians from Africa’s most populous country unless the incoming Nigerian president takes urgent steps to protect Christians from the violence of these jihadists”.
He said his organisation was working with partners on the ground in Nigeria “to provide support for suffering Christians”.
According to the Open Doors Watch List 2023, released on January 17, Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places “to follow Jesus.” According to the report, Nigeria accounts for 89 per cent of Christians martyred worldwide.
Photo: A man cries during a funeral Mass in the the parish hall of St. Francis Xavier Church in Owo, Nigeria, June 17, 2022. The Mass was for some of the 40 victims killed in a June 5 attack by gunmen during Mass at the church. (OSV News photo/Temilade Adelaja, Reuters)