The population of Nigeria is roughly 50% Christian and 50% Muslim. The majority of Muslims live in the north, the south is mainly Christian and the Middle Belt has about equal numbers.
Persecution against Christians in the Middle Belt and the north continues unabated. Jihadi groups Boko Haram along with Islamic State West Africa Province and Islamist Fulani militants are relentless in their attacks on Christian communities, killing and kidnapping villagers. Even by conservative estimates, more than 10,000 Christians nationwide have been killed in Islamist violence since 2015 – and the true total could be higher.
“In our country, death has become a daily meal,” a church leader lamented in June 2022. An attack survivor commented “I am tired of running” after Islamist militants killed three Christians in March 2022 in another assault on his village in Borno State. “The insurgents always come back another day and do whatever they want,” he added.
In one of the worst onslaughts of 2022 at least 80 people were killed, 60 abducted and 115 homes razed when gunmen attacked Christian-majority villages in Plateau State one Sunday in April. A Barnabas contact said afterwards it was clear that Christians and their villages are the target for “slow extermination”.
In June 2022 violence spread to Ondo in the south-west, one of Nigeria’s most peaceful states, when gunmen killed at least 40 Christians gathered at church on Pentecost Sunday.
At the time of writing, tensions in Nigeria were rising as the country prepared for a general election on 25 February 2023. Nigerian presidential candidates normally choose a vice-presidential running mate from the other religious community; however, All Progressive Congress candidate Bola Tinubu, a Muslim, announced another Muslim as his running mate, sending shock waves through Nigerian politics. The Christian Association of Nigeria denounced it as a “declaration of war”.
Pray for the Lord’s mighty protection over His people, and ask that they remain steadfast in their faith throughout these difficult times. Ask that the plans of the men of violence will be thwarted.