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Nigerian security operatives during a military operation, ahead of the Governorship election, in Benin City, Edo, Nigeria, on September 17, 2020 Shutterstock

NIGERIA (LifeSiteNews) — A new report on the state of Christians in Nigeria is stating that over 50,000 have been killed in the country for their Christian faith since 2009. 

In a report issued by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) on April 10, the plight of Nigerian Christians for over a decade is highlighted. Intersociety, based in Eastern Nigeria, dedicated the report to the “1,041 slain and disappeared victims” of Muslim terrorist groups who had carried out attacks in the first 100 days of 2023.

Summarizing their findings, Intersociety wrote that “since [the] 2009 Islamic uprising[,] 52,250 Christians and 34,000 moderate Muslims have been butchered or hacked to death.” These attacks and murders are being performed not only by terrorist groups, but also by state supporters groups, including the Nigerian army.

The report noted that such attacks had become increasingly regular in recent years, with current president Muhammadu Buhari’s regime of “radical Islamism” having killed 30,250 Christians since 2015, and of having attacked 18,000 churches and 2,200 Christian schools.

Indeed, the trend of recent years has seen significant numbers of Christians killed for their faith, with “5,191 defenseless Christians were hacked to death in 2021” and 5,068 Christians killed in 2022. So far, “no fewer than 1,041 defenseless Christians were hacked to death by Nigeria’s Jihadists in the first 100 days of 2023,” Intersociety wrote.

The report’s authors — who have been closely monitoring Islamic terrorist actions since 2010 — wrote that persecution was aided by multiple factors, including the introduction of 

state radical Islamism policy by the outgoing Government of Nigeria in 2016, introduction of Nigerian security forces dimension to anti Christian butcheries across the country such as pro Islamic internal security operations in Eastern Nigeria since 2016 involving ethnic and religious profiling associated with atrocious military operations in the East, and the military protected invasion of Eastern Christian forests, bushes and farmlands by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen since 2016.

While thousands of Christians are being killed, the report additionally highlighted the many thousands who are also abducted. In 2021 alone over 3,800 Christians were abducted, the report’s authors wrote.

Intersociety also cited the figure given by persecution-watch group Open Doors for the following year, stating that “4,726 Christians were abducted in 2022, sexually assaulted or harassed and forcibly married or physically or mentally abused.”

Such a number looks likely to be met in 2023, Intersociety noted, with no less that 707 Christians abducted during the first 100 days of the year.

READ: Democrats in the US ‘look away’ from persecution of Christians in Nigeria, African bishop says

While the report’s figures date from 2009, the persecution of Christians has seen an increase due to the Buhari regime which started in 2015, wrote Intersociety. “Between June 2015 and April 2023, [the] deadliest Christian deaths of 18,250 were recorded in the hands of Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen protected by the outgoing Buhari Government of Nigeria.”

In addition to the many thousands killed or abducted, millions more have been displaced. With over 50 million Christians facing “serious threats from Jihadists for being professed Christians,” Intersociety noted that at least 14 million “have been uprooted,” with 8 million “forced to flee their homes to avoid being hacked to death.” Currently 5 million Christians are residing in refugee camps.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the high numbers of Christians killed and abducted, many thousands of churches and schools have been destroyed. Intersociety estimated that around 18,000 Christian churches and 2,200 Christian schools had been attacked and destroyed in whole or in part.

However, while the majority of persecution is directed at Nigeria’s Christian population, the Intersociety report observed that it was not limited to them alone. By April 2023 an estimated 34,000 Muslims had been killed “for nonviolently professing Islam.”

The Muslim population has not seen the same amount of attacks made against their religious buildings, though, with Intersociety writing “the number of Mosques and Islamic learning centers attacked by the Jihadists is minutely disproportionate when compared to number of churches or Christian schools attacked.”

Summarizing the state of religious persecution in the country, Intersociety strongly criticized Nigeria’s Christian leaders. The report stated such individuals “have abandoned their spiritual calling as defenders of faith and protectors of their faith members and [are] deeply engrossed in the pursuit of crude material wealth.

READ: Fifty dead in terrorist attack on Nigerian Catholic church

“They also pay more attention in building ‘palatial paradises on earth’ and little attention at protecting their churches and members of their laity; thereby exposing them to grave vulnerabilities to attacks by radical Islamists clandestinely funded by Muslim hardliners and hypocritical public office holders who pretend to be ‘Christians’,” the authors added.

The dry material quest and lackadaisical attitudes of the Nigerian Christian leaders are also forcing Christian converts to leave the Church in droves to embrace other non-Christian denominations. It must be warned that if extreme care is not taken to rescue the Christendom and the Church, the churches or church buildings in Nigeria will become the present day Turkish church monuments in fifty years time or less than that.

However, such a depiction would be contested by some, including Ondo’s Catholic Bishop Jude Arogundade, who has strongly criticized the government for failing to protect Catholics from persecution. 

READ: Nigerian church reopens 10 months after gunmen killed over 50 Mass-goers

Speaking at the opening of a church 10 months after it was attacked by armed gunmen — who killed over 50 worshippers — Arogundade stated that “we have to call ourselves back to the greater understanding of what is happening in our society today.” 

“I have never seen a nation so comfortable watching the killings of its citizens on a daily basis in hundreds and nothing has been done for the past 15 years,” he added.