Onitsha, Nigeria, Jul 31, 2021 / 04:30 am
An estimated 3,462 Christians have been killed in Nigeria in
the first 200 days of 2021, according to a new study.
This equates to 17 Christians being murdered every day in
Africa’s most populous country, reported ACI Africa, CNA’s African news
The study by the International Society for Civil Liberties
and Rule of Law (Intersociety) in Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria, said that the
figure included 10 priests and pastors who were murdered between Jan. 1 and
“The number of defenseless Christians hacked to death by
Nigeria’s Islamic jihadists and their collaborators in the security forces in
the past 200 days ... has risen to no fewer than 3,462 and this is just 68
deaths less than the total deaths of Nigerian Christians in 2020, which the
Open Doors’ World Watch List of Persecuted Christians put at 3,530,”
The figure is the second-highest since 2014 when more than
5,000 Christian deaths were recorded at the hands of Boko Haram and Fulani
herdsmen, the Intersociety study noted.
The report indicated that Boko Haram, one of Africa’s
largest Islamist groups, was responsible for the deaths of more than 4,000
Christians in 2014. Fulani herdsmen, who have clashed frequently with Christian
farmers over grazing land, accounted for an additional 1,229 deaths that year.
“In our last report issued on May 11, 2021, covering January
to April 2021, we found that no fewer than 1,470 Christians were hacked to
death and in the past 80 days -- or May 1 to July 18, 2021 -- not less than
1,992 Christian lives have been lost,” said the report issued on July 18.
Intersociety is a research and investigative rights group
that has monitored religious persecution across Nigeria since 2010.
The human rights group gathers information through contact
with victims and eyewitnesses, media tracking, and interviews, among other
Intersociety found that 2,200 Christians were abducted
between Jan. 1 and April 30 this year, with a further 780 kidnapped between May
1 and July 18 -- a total of 3,000 people seized since the start of 2020.
The investigators said that at least three out of every 30
abducted Christians were likely to have died in captivity, suggesting that some
300 kidnapped Christians died in the first half of this year.
The additional deaths of 150 people were also added to
represent what researchers referred to as “dark figures,” meaning deaths that
occurred but were not reported.
Around 300 churches have been targeted since January 2021,
the investigators said.
They noted that Taraba State, in northeastern Nigeria, was
the worst-affected area, with at least 70 churches threatened or attacked.
The report’s authors said it was “deeply saddening” that
those responsible for anti-Christian attacks had continued to evade justice,
creating a sense impunity and leading to repeated atrocities.
According to the organization, surviving victims and families
of murder victims have been totally abandoned by the Nigerian government.
“The country’s security forces have so fumbled and
compromised that they hardly intervene when the vulnerable Christians are in
danger of threats or attacks, but only emerge after such attacks to arrest and
frame up the same population threatened or attacked,” the report said.
It added: “In the north, the jihadists operate freely under
the cover and protection of the security forces; abducting, killing, looting,
destroying or burning and forcefully converting their captive and unprotected
Christians and their homes and sacred places of worship and learning.”
“But the same security forces hatefully and brutally respond
with utter ferocity against southern and northern Christians accused of
infraction or offending the law.”
According to the report, Fulani herdsmen were responsible
for the most killings, having murdered an estimated 1,909 Christians in the
first 200 days of this year.
They were followed by Boko Haram, the Islamic State in West
Africa Province (ISWAP), and Muslim Fulani bandits who jointly killed 1,063
The report said that the Nigerian army, alongside the
Nigeria Police Force and other branches of the armed forces, accounted for 490
“The Muslim Fulani bandits, originally formed in [the
northwestern] Zamfara State in 2011, are jointly responsible for terrors going
on in Christian parts of Southern Kaduna, Niger, FCT [Federal Capital
Territory], Nasarawa and Kogi states,” the report said.