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Nigeria: “There is an effort of the jihad and the Fulani to scare Christians out of their land and stop gospel preaching”

A report by a Nigerian organisation shows that over 8,000 people were killed in the country in 2023 because of their Christian faith.

AUTOR 45/Jonatan_Soriano,5/Evangelical_Focus JOS 29 DE FEBRERO DE 2024 10:24 h
A church in a rural area of Jos, the capital of Plateau. / Photo: [link] HisArt Photos[/link], Unsplash CC0.

The figures for the persecution of Christians in Nigeria have reached unprecedented heights.



The organisation Open Doors reports 4,565 murders in 2023 alone, covering practically all of the 4,998 people who were killed worldwide for their faith in Christ last year. However, are “the absolute lowest of what could happen”, they said.



Now, the International Society for Liberties and Rule of Law (known as Intersociety) states that the number of Christians killed in Nigeria in 2023 exceeds 8,000.



“The combined forces of the government protected Islamic Jihadists and the country’s Security Forces are directly and vicariously accountable for hacking to death of no fewer than 8,222 defenseless Christians, from January 2023 to January 2024”, says the report of the entity  based in Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria.



According to Intersociety, between 2009 and 2022 over 52,000 Christians in Nigeria “have been massacred or killed”, as have over 34,000 moderate Muslims in the same period.



The organisation also points out that at least 18,000 churches and 2,200 Christian schools have been attacked and their premises and buildings damaged.



 



A specific anti-Christian agenda



The secretary general of the Evangelical Alliance of Nigeria (NEF), James Akinyele, told Protestante Digital that the conflict “is a determined effort of the Muslim jihads in collaboration with residents Fulanis and others to decimate the predominantly Christians communities, scare them out of their ancestral lands and occupy those lands both for grazing and to stop the existence of the churches and the preaching of the gospel”.



After touring the northern region of Nigeria, Akinyele is now in the United States with the aim of “making contacts and building alliances” for the defence of Christians in this particularly hard-hit region of the country.



Furthermore, NEF has been working along with Open Doors International and African Services on an investigation on the ground in the states of Maiduguri and Plateau, where a series of attacks on Christian communities left over 160 dead last Christmas, “on the impact of the attacks and the continued persecution of believers”.



Akinyele asked Christians to pray “for comfort for believers still facing religious persecution and economic deprivations especially in the North”.



 



Impunity



Meanwhile, the country director of Amnesty International, Isa Sanusi, denounced in a statement that “patterns of recent deadly attacks on the rural areas of Plateau state, clearly show, the Nigerian authorities have left these communities at the mercy of rampaging gunmen”.



“Nigerian authorities’ failure to tame the tide of this violence is costing people’s lives and livelihoods, and without immediate action, many more lives may be lost”, added Sanusi.



For the evangelical representative Akinyele, some of the factors that aggravate the situation include “the unwilling of the government to bring the perpetrators to justice, apparent compromise and indifference from political leaders, porous borders that enables criminal elements to come into the country with ease, corruption among security operatives that are already equipped”.



He also warned of “the poor understanding of the the real problems international community after years of propaganda and false narratives”.

 



Climate change and persecution



Joop Koopman, communications director for the US-based Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), has said “the attackers are well armed and have sophisticated and expensive equipment, suggesting that there is a source of funding for these clearly now radicalised Fulani”.



Koopman also pointed out that climate change “has worsened the situation through the desertification of arable land, driving the Fulanis southward into the fertile Middle Belt of Nigeria”.



However, “resource competition” is not is the only factor to be taken into account to explain the conflict, he added.



In this regard, the Nigerian Evangelical Fellowship asks for prayers “that the thousands of displaced brothers and sisters in the North may return safely to their homes”.



[analysis]

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