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News / Thoughts

Nigeria: Almost 900 people killed in violent attacks this year

May 16, 2022

In the first three months of 2022, almost 900 Nigerian civilians were killed in violent attacks – including hundreds of Christians who were murdered because of their faith.

It’s difficult to get your head around how many Nigerians have been killed already in 2022. You might hear about individual events – like a bomb and gun attack on a train in north west Nigeria – but it’s hard to get a sense of the scale. In the first three months of 2022, 896 Nigerian civilians were killed in attacks by extremist Islamic militants. Not all were motivated by religious persecution, but a significant number of those men, women and children were murdered because they follow Jesus.

Islamic militant attacks

The report revealing these figures has been put together by SBM Intelligence, a Nigeria-based research firm. These 896 people were killed in attacks by Islamist groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), militant Fulani herdsmen, bandits and violent gangs – and this total is only civilians; it doesn’t include members of those extremist groups or people killed because of their job (such as soldiers and police officers). The highest number of fatalities was in the north west of Nigeria, with high numbers elsewhere in the north and in the Middle Belt.

While the violence affects everyone, Christians are often particular targets because of their faith. Nigeria is number seven on the Open Doors World Watch List, and more Christians are killed for their faith in Nigeria than the rest of the world combined. As one example, at least 20 people were killed or injured in an attack by ISWAP in mid-April. They targeted a market in Iware, Taraba State, because it was ‘a gathering of infidel Christians’. A week earlier, Fulani militants attacked 10 communities in Plateau State, killing more than 150 people.

Why are more Christians killed in Nigeria than anywhere else?

“Nigeria is currently one of the scariest places to be a Christian,” says Illia Djadi, an Open Doors analyst for sub-Saharan Africa. “The country has witnessed an explosion of violence in recent months. Attacks are happening almost on a daily basis. And what is happening in Nigeria is a sad illustration of what is happening across West Africa – the agenda, and the process and model of persecution, are being implemented elsewhere with impunity.”

Pray now…

  • For an end to violent attacks in Nigeria, and justice for those who have been killed or injured
  • That Islamic militants would turn from their evil ways and live (Ezekiel 33:11)
  • For decision makers and authorities in Nigeria to have wisdom and diligence in tackling the issue.

Four things you can do now:

1. Learn more and pray: Get our free glow-in-the-dark World Watch List Map and find out more about the places where faith costs the most. Get your map here…

2. Pray regularly: Every Monday night at 7pm we’ll be praying one prayer for one minute for the one in seven Christians around the world who face persecution. Set an alarm and tune in…

3. Choose to Lose: Raise money by getting sponsored to lose something you love for a short time. Sign up and we’ll send you a fundraising pack…

4. Send a message of hope: Imagine getting a letter from a Christian on the other side of the world who’d heard about you and was praying for you – encouraging right? Well, you can send encouragement now to young Christians facing persecution. Do that here now…

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.