More than 600 Nigerian Christians have been killed since the start of the year, according to a human rights organisation.
A report from the Nigeria-based International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) said that 620 Christians have been murdered as a result of an uptick in violence at the hands of Islamic militant groups. The report noted: “Nigeria’s main Islamic Jihadists: Militant Fulani Herdsmen and Boko Haram/ISWAP have intensified their anti-Christian violence in the old Middle Belt and Northeast regions.”
“The atrocities against Christians have gone unchecked,” the group added, “with the country’s security forces and concerned political actors looking the other way or colluding with the Jihadis."
According to the group, Fulani herdsmen were responsible for killing more than 470 people between January and mid April. In addition, the nomadic militants killed 140 Christians from the beginning of April until 14th May. Terror group Boko Haram is thought to have killed 150 Christians since January.
Intersociety added: "The atrocities against Christians have gone unchecked and risen to alarming apogee with the country’s security forces and concerned political actors looking the other way or colluding with the Jihadists.
“Houses burnt or destroyed during the period are in their hundreds; likewise dozens of Christian worship and learning centers.”
Despite the Christian community making up half of the entire population of Nigeria, Intersociety noted that Nigeria has lost a staggering 32,000 followers of Jesus to persecution since 2009.
In March, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Abuja, Nigeria, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to be more effective in combatting the violence and kidnappings.
“We need to have access to our leaders; president, vice president. We need to work together to eradicate poverty, killings, bad governance and all sorts of challenges facing us as a nation,” he said.
Open Doors defines the level of persecution faced by Christians in Nigeria as "very high." The country is ranked 12th on the charity's "World Watch List" - a detailed catalogue of 50 countries in which believers face violence and oppression.