Thousands of Christians in Nigeria have been kidnapped and hundreds killed in the first four months of 2021, the Tablet reported Wednesday.
The Nigerian-based Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (Intersociety), a human rights group, reported this month that Islamic jihadists massacred 1,470 Christians in the first four months of 2021 and abducted over 2,200.
The 1,470 Christian deaths in just four months exceeded the total number of Christians killed in 2019, estimated at 1,350, the report said.
Kaduna, in the north of the country, registered the highest number of Christian deaths (300), the report declared, followed by Benue with 200, Plateau with 90, Igbo Land States with 80 deaths, Niger State 70, Taraba/Adamawa 65, Ogun/Ondo 52, Kebbi 50, Borno 50, Nasarawa 30, Delta 30, Edo 20, Oyo/Ekiti/Osun 30, Gombe 20, Yobe State 15, and Kogi State 10.
“More Christians are murdered for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country,” declared the World Watch List 2021, published by Open Doors.
The primary driver of anti-Christian violence in Nigeria is Islamic extremism, Open Doors stated, coming from a variety of groups: the Boko Haram terror group, Hausa-Fulani militant Muslim raiders, and the affiliate of the Islamic State ISWAP, which operate in the north and Middle Belt of Nigeria but are becoming more common elsewhere.
“Militants often murder Christians or destroy their property and means of livelihood,” the Watch List states. “Men and boys are particularly vulnerable to being killed. The women and children they leave behind are often displaced to informal camps, face sexual violence, and are even at risk of abduction and forced marriage.”
In December 2020, the U.S. State Department designated Nigeria for the first time as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing egregious violations of religious freedom.”
Paul Robinson, CEO of Release International, said that “the world must wake up to what is happening in Nigeria,” Christianity Today reported this month.
“Boko Haram has publicly declared war on Christians and stated its aim to Islamise the whole of Nigeria,” Robinson said. “Fulani militants are killing even more Christians than Boko Haram fighters, and appear to be serving the same agenda.”
“This latest dimension to the violence can no longer be described as simply herder-farmer clashes,” he declared, adding that “the government of Nigeria is simply not doing enough to protect its Christian minority in the North against attack from religious extremists.”