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Christians killed in Nigeria

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An average of 10 Christians are killed every day in Nigeria

Jihadist violence is rampant in Nigeria.

  • Three men killed last Sunday, July 3, in Kajaru.
  • Forty worshippers riddled with bullets on June 5 in a church in Ondo.
  • Fifty innocent people killed in the same way in the state of Kaduna on March 24.
  • 100 abducted in Giwa on the same day, March 24.

896 civilians were killed during the first four months of 2022.
45% of Nigerians are Christians, compared to 53% belonging to the Muslim religion. Recall that thirty Christian clerics (zero Muslims) have been killed since 2015 and five million Christians celebrated Christmas displaced within Nigeria. It is estimated that more than 2,000 religious centers have burned.

One of the drivers of this situation is not only Islamic fundamentalism, but also the magnitude of weapons currently circulating in Nigeria. Since 1999, its laws have allowed those over 18 years of age who are mentally healthy and have a clean criminal record to carry “hunting weapons”, without the need to take a test to obtain a permit. However, most guns are still illegally possessed in the African country, where it is rumored, perhaps with a certain tone of village pride, that the population has more guns than the police.
It is estimated at 6 million weapons for personal use.

The jihadist issue directs attacks against Christians. Although there are records of sectarian violence against Christian migrants of Igbo ethnicity in the 1950s, it was not until the creation of Boko Haram in 2002 that armed jihadism gradually spread across the north and northeast of the country, and then towards the center. Not only in the form of other groups such as the Islamic State of West Africa, or the Fulani Jihad operating in the center, but also by radicalizing the ideas of the most vulnerable subjects of the population. Fundamentalist and Islamic groups have been able to channel the frustrations of ethnic minorities to turn them into violence against other ethnic groups or religions. It only takes three or four conscientious young people to organize an operational religious commando. Historically, attacks on Christians occur in the center and north of the country because they are Muslim-dominated areas, although the largest concentrations of Christians are found in the southern states.

What is worrying about the latest attacks on churches is that several have taken place in the south of the country, a Christian and relatively safe area. The Fulani Jihad has extended its area of influence in recent years, seeking to recreate the old kingdom that this ethnic group possessed during the Middle Ages.

Faced with this wave of aggressions, the Christian communities in the north and center of the country have ended up creating over the last decade different groups of armed vigilantes to protect their own. Violence is on the rise. There is no evidence that Christians attack Muslims first, but the Nigerian Christians interviewed for this report definitely admit that they have sometimes attacked Muslims after receiving the first slap. However, they complain, in certain states (especially Kaduna state) it is extremely difficult to set up such defense squads. They complain that Nigerian security forces temporarily detain Christian vigilantes or confiscate their weapons, either before Muslim attacks or shortly after they occur. This, they claim, renders Christians even more defenseless.

Hence the accusations made by Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah in January 2020, when he said that the Nigerian government was “like Boko Haram but without bombs”, alluding to the apparent lack of interest shown from Abuja in the face of the silent genocide. Christian communities openly point the finger at President Buhari and other politicians close to him (such as the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai) for the lack of protection they suffer from Muslim aggressors. Since the beginning of Buhari’s government, attacks have increased but no additional security measures have been imposed to protect religious services, while the culprits flee with impunity in most of the attacks, as has happened in the last two recorded attacks. More than 17,000 Christians have been killed since Buhari came to power in 2015.

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