Islamic jihadist groups in Nigeria are responsible for killing at least 4,000 Christians and abducting more than 2,300 other Christians in the first 10 months of this year alone, according to a report released this week by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law.
The Fulani herdsmen and Islamic terror groups allied with it were responsible for 2,650 of the 4,020 Christian deaths between January and October, the Anambra-based group Intersociety said in a report sent to The Christian Post.
The other terror groups, including Islamic State in West Africa Province, Boko Haram and Ansaru, accounted for 450 Christian deaths and the Fulani (Zamfara) bandits and their splinter groups were responsible for 370 Christian deaths, it added.
Fulani herdsmen and Fulani (Zamfara) bandits and other armed jihadist groups that are “Nigerian government friendly” abducted more than 2,315 Christians, out of which, 1,401 were abducted between January and June, and 915 between July and October, added Intersociety, which is run by Christian criminologist Emeka Umeagbalasi.
Out of the 2,315 abducted Christians, about 10%, or 231, might not ever be able to return to their families due to their circumstances or have “most likely been killed in captivity for their refusal to convert to Islam or inability to pay huge ransoms demanded,” it further said.
On an average, as per the statistics, more than 400 Christians were slaughtered and 231 others were abducted per month, or 13 deaths and eight abductions were reported per day, respectively, Intersociety stressed.
The report comes about two months after the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom warned that religious freedom was deteriorating in Nigeria because of rising violence by non-State actors and that “poor governance” was driving and aggravating that violence.
“In recent years, nonstate actor violence has increased in most parts of Nigeria, and this violence has yielded devastating humanitarian and human rights consequences, including but not limited to violence based on religion and other violations of Nigerians’ rights to freedom of religion or belief,” USCIRF said in a report on violence in Africa’s most populous country.
“Violence that infringes on freedom of religion or belief in Nigeria includes militant Islamist violence, identity-based violence at the intersection of religion, ethnicity, and geographic heritage, mob violence against individuals accused of blasphemy, and violence impacting worship,” explained the commission, a congressionally mandated body of independent experts tasked with advising the federal government on religious freedom issues.
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Intersociety said in an earlier report that at least 60,000 Christians had been killed in the past two decades in Nigeria, adding that an estimated 10 million people had been uprooted in northern Nigeria, where extremist violence was most severe, from July 2009 to July 2021.
The report added that about 2,000 Christian schools were attacked during that time.
The atrocities included “massacres, killings, mutilations, torture, maiming, abductions, hostage-taking, rape, girl-child defilements, forced marriages, disappearances, extortions, forceful conversions and destruction or burning of homes and sacred worship and learning centers,” Intersociety reported at the time.
Many have raised concerns about what they perceive as the government’s inaction in holding terrorists accountable for the rising number of murders and kidnappings, which some groups warn have reached the level of genocide.
In its report, USCIRF recommended that the State Department designate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern for “engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
Countries subject to the State Department’s “CPC” designation face negative consequences, including the possibility of crippling sanctions.