September 2021: Insecurity and religious freedom in Nigeria
Udo Jude Ilo on how the failings of government have contributed to religious tensions in Nigeria.
An increasingly bloody dispute over land use is exacerbating religious tensions in Nigeria, which is roughly equally divided between Christians and Muslims with a small percentage adhering to indigenous religions. Displacement and the effects of climate change are driving nomadic herdsmen, predominantly Muslim, southwards into largely Christian farming lands. Since 2016 Islamist inspired Fulani militias have stepped up their brutal attacks across swathes of central and southern Nigeria, laying waste to mainly Christian villages, killing the villagers or driving them from their ancestral homes. Meanwhile, the threat from the radical Islamist Boko Haram persists in the northeast where there are regular clashes with the military, and sporadic violence continues in the oil-rich Niger Delta region. The growing conflict poses a threat to stability and unity in the Country. See the Context to conflict section for more Information.
Introduction to Nigeria Report by Dr John Eibner, Chairman International Management CSI
Welcome to Nigeria Report, a project of Christian Solidarity International (CSI). This is an internet platform for informed discussion of the various aspects of sectarian violence in Nigeria, and for the presentation of policy recommendations aimed at ending it. CSI’s intention is to provide space especially for the perspectives of Nigerian civil society representatives, regardless of tribal or religious identity. Such voices are currently only faintly heard outside Nigeria.
Respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a foundational pillar of CSI. Conversation on this platform will be conducted in the spirit of that international instrument. The views expressed in the Commentaries section are those of individual authors and are not necessarily those of CSI.
The northeast and Middle Belt of Nigeria are the areas where political and religious violence are concentrated.
In one of the worst incidents, at the end of June 2018 more than 200 people were killed in attacks by Fulani militias on mostly Christian villages in Plateau State. Numerous houses were burned down and entire villages were destroyed. To read the stories of some of the victims of these and other attacks, see the Victims' Stories section.
In an echo of the kidnapping of 276 female students from a school in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014, a faction of Boko Haram on 19 February 2018 abducted 110 schoolgirls from a boarding college in Dapchi, Yobe State. Five of the girls were killed and 104 were subsequently released. But the group, ISWAP, continues to hold one girl, Leah Sharibu, who refused to renounce her Christian faith. Two aid workers captured by the same faction in March were later killed. See the Background, Conflict - Issues and actors section for more information on Boko Haram and the Fulani.
4,400 Christians killed by jihadists in nine months - Intersociety
Radical Islamists caused the deaths of no fewer than 4,400 Christians between January and September 2021, according to figures collated by the Nigerian International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety).
Over the nine-month period 20 members of the Christian clergy were killed or abducted, and between 350 and 400 church buildings or places of learning were attacked. No fewer than 3,500 Christians were abducted with many feared killed in captivity. An average of 490 Christians were killed every month.
According to Intersociety, in the first nine months of 2021, jihadist Fulani herdsmen were responsible for 2,540 Christian deaths or more than half of the total. Boko Haram, ISWAP and other foreign affiliated jihadists, bandits and the Nigerian army and police force accounted for the remainder.
Southern Kaduna recorded the largest number of deaths, followed by Benue and Plateau states.
Some of the worst incidents reported by local media:
CSI is a human rights organisation campaigning for religious liberty and human dignity. It is active throughout the world where religious minorities are persecuted. In Nigeria CSI delivers food and medical aid to victims and support to displaced families.
This website provides an overview of the conflict situation in Nigeria since 2018, which has affected so many lives. It offers space for victims to share their personal testimony and a platform for different views on the nature of the crisis and how it can be resolved.
To support the work of CSI in Nigeria, visit the Donate page.