Over 50,000 Christians Killed in Nigeria by Islamist Extremists

Over 50,000 Christians Killed in Nigeria by Islamist Extremists

By Charles Igwe

A startling report titled “Martyred Christians in Nigeria,” issued by the Nigerian non-governmental organization, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), has shed light on a harrowing crisis. The report reveals that since the outbreak of the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency in 2009, more than 50,000 Christians in Nigeria have lost their lives to violence perpetrated by Islamist militants.

Over the past 14 years, this deeply troubling statistic has emerged, showing the extent of the violence inflicted upon Christian communities. These attacks have taken place amid a backdrop of religious persecution and other forms of religious violence, both by State and non-State actors, as monitored and investigated by Intersociety since 2010.

The grim findings of the report expose the brutality faced by Nigerian Christians, with at least 52,250 lives lost to Islamist militants. Alarmingly, more than 30,000 of these deaths occurred during the eight-year presidency of former Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, whose tenure faced criticism for not taking decisive action to combat the growing insecurity within the country.

The devastation doesn’t stop at loss of life; it extends to places of worship and education. During the same period, 18,000 Christian churches and 2,200 Christian schools were set ablaze. Tragically, approximately 34,000 moderate Muslims also lost their lives in Islamist attacks, highlighting the widespread impact of this violence.

The report also paints a bleak picture for 2023, with over 1,000 Christians already killed since the beginning of the year. Kidnappings have also plagued the community, with at least 707 Christians abducted within the same timeframe. The Niger State in Northern Nigeria recorded more than 200 abductions, including a horrific incident on March 14, 2023, when over 100 Christians were kidnapped in Adunu (Paikoro). Other affected states include Kaduna, Katsina, Taraba, Edo, Ogun, Nassarawa, Kwara, Kogi, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi, Enugu, Imo, Kebbi, Gombe, Bayelsa, and Cross River.

The peril faced by Christians in Nigeria emanates not only from Boko Haram but also from ethnic Fulani Muslim herders who have joined Islamist extremist groups. These relentless attacks have forced mass displacement, with an estimated 5 million Christians displaced and compelled to reside in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps within Nigeria and refugee camps along regional and sub-regional borders, according to the Intersociety report.

The sobering findings of the report underscore the urgent need for action to address this ongoing crisis, protect vulnerable communities, and promote religious tolerance and harmony within Nigeria.

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