nigeria report

Escalating Sectarian Violence in Nigeria

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Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a Genocide Warning for Nigeria on 30 January 2020, calling on the UN Security Council to act. Read the press release here

Conflict 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.


Church in Nigeria

Dr. John Eibner

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.


Trouble hotspots


The northeast and Middle Belt of Nigeria are the areas where political and religious violence are concentrated.


In one of the worst recent attacks, at the end of June 2018 more than 200 people were killed in attacks by Fulani militias on 18 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, 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 refuses 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.

Map of the conflict in Nigeria
Map showing states most prone to religious and ethnic conflict (@CSI)

Michael Nnadi was buried in Kaduna
The funeral of murdered seminarian Michael Nnadi on 11 February 2020 (Photo: Twitter)
Murdered Nigerian seminarian Michael Nnadi
Michael Nnadi was abducted alongside three other seminarians. They were released but Nnadi was later found murdered. (Photo: Twitter)

Latest developments

Mgr Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, gave a homily at the Funeral Mass of murdered seminarian Michael Nnadi on 11 February 2020 in Kaduna. Michael was just 18 years old when he was abducted and killed. (Edited excerpts)


Nigeria is at the crossroads and its future hangs precariously in a balance. This is a wakeup call for Christians… 


Nigeria needs to pause for a moment and think. No one more than the President of Nigeria, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, who was voted for in 2015 on the grounds of his own promises to rout Boko Haram and place the country on an even keel… This President has displayed the greatest degree of insensitivity in managing our country's rich diversity. He has subordinated the larger interests of the country to the hegemonic interests of his co-religionists and clansmen and women…


We are being told that this situation has nothing to do with religion. Really? It is what happens when politicians use religion to extend the frontiers of their ambition and power. Are we to believe that simply because Boko Haram kills Muslims too, they wear no religious garb? Are we to deny the evidence before us, of kidnappers separating Muslims from infidels or compelling Christians to convert or die? 


…We have no evidence of what transpired between Michael and his killers. However, for us Christians, this death is a metaphor for the fate of all Christians in Nigeria but especially northern Nigeria. For us Christians, it would seem safe to say that we are all marked men and women today...


Read the full sermon here.

Recent violence

Since the end of 2019 there has been an upsurge in attacks by Boko Haram faction ISWAP in Nigeria's northeast. Some of the worst incidents reported by local media:

  • 10/02/2020: 30 motorists burned to death by Islamic militants in Borno State 
  • 26/01/2020: 26 killed in Plateau State attacks attributed to Fulani
  • 06/01/2020: 35 killed, 58 abducted in Kaduna State attacks
  • 25/12/2019: ISWAP kills 11 Christian hostages
  • 24/12/2019: Boko Haram kill 7 in raid near Chibok, Borno State
  • 22/12/2019: ISWAP kills 6. abducts 5 in Borno State
  • 21/11/2019: Suspected Boko Haram fighters kill at least 11 hunters in Adamawa State
Protest to stop killings in Nigeria
Photo: @CSI

Christian Solidarity International (CSI)

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.


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