Kaduna River, Kaduna, Nigeria, 2007

Nightmare in Nigeria

From 18 to 21 December, violent murders and arson took place throughout villages in Kaduna, Nigeria. The attacks were perpetrated primarily by Fulani herdsmen and were unprovoked. The victims were unarmed farmers, most of them Christians. Some were shot and others were burned alive in their homes. Over 100 homes were burned and 46 people murdered in the attacks—no one has been arrested.

Days earlier, the Fulani were seen coming from outside the village and setting up a camp nearby.  Herdsmen had recently been seen at another nearby farm, herding their livestock onto the farm and murdering the owner. Despite this, nothing was done by security forces to ward off potential mayhem with their arrival at these villages.

Muslim Fulani live in Nigeria and the Sahel. Most Fulani are not extremists or terrorists, but some operate like Boko Haram and target Christians and Christian symbols. The attacks have driven thousands from their home since 2019. 

In addition to Fulani extremists, Nigeria is subject to terrorism from Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and in the northern state, where Shariah law is enforced, making Christians into second class citizens. In 2021 Nigeria topped the list of countries wherein perpetrators targeted Christians and killed them for their faith: 4,650 were murdered—over 1,000 more than in the previous year. Additionally, they kidnapped more than 2,500 Christians and attacked churches 470 times in the same year.

Nearly half of Nigeria’s population is Christian. All told, that is over 84 million people who belong to various Christian denominations. Nigeria ranks 7th on the World Watch List published by Open Doors of countries suffering the worst persecution of Christians, 3rd in Africa after Somalia and Libya. Internationally, its Christian persecution is ranked worse than Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Myanmar.