According to a report on Christian persecution by the International Christian Concern (ICC), Nigeria has been identified as the most dangerous country in the world for Christians. The ICC’s 2023 “Persecutors of the World” report highlights Nigeria as the leading oppressor due to its pervasive anti-Christian violence.
In the report, it is stated that radical Muslim terrorist groups like Boko Haram and Fulani militants have been engaged in a relentless genocide against Christians in Nigeria for the past 20 years. This has resulted in the brutal abduction, torture, and murder of Christian men, women, and children on a weekly basis.
From March 4th to July 6th of 2022, a total of 55 separate attacks led to the deaths of 549 Christians in Nigeria, as reported by the ICC. The adoption of Sharia criminal law in 12 northern states has further intensified the persecution of Christians in the region. Despite the clear targeting of Christians and churches, both the Nigerian government and a significant portion of the international community fail to recognize the religious motivation behind the ongoing violence.
Jeff King, the President of ICC, expressed his concerns about the situation, stating, “Once again, Nigeria’s Christian community is suffering at the hands of radical Fulani militants. And once again, rather than intervening, the Nigerian government continues to turn a blind eye to the violence, aiding and abetting the ongoing genocide.” He emphasized that the government’s inaction is inexcusable and warned that the violence will only escalate if the international community fails to take action.
Radical Islam is identified as the primary driver of Christian persecution in Nigeria. The three main perpetrators of persecution, according to the ICC, are Boko Haram, Fulani militants, and Islamic conservative communities. While Boko Haram is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people, predominantly Christians, the Fulani militants in Nigeria’s Middle Belt have killed even more Christians in recent years and displaced millions of Christian farmers.
Adding insult to injury, Nigeria was removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) in 2021, despite the ongoing violence and atrocities against Christians. The ICC criticized this decision, stating, “This lack of designation essentially indicates to Nigeria that the U.S. approves of all its actions. Whether the U.S. acknowledges the plight of Nigerian Christians or not, the fact remains the same: Nigeria has become a burial ground for believers of the Christian faith.”
In November 2021, the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed its dismay at the Biden administration’s decision to remove Nigeria from the list of CPCs. USCIRF denounced the lack of redesignation for Nigeria, stating that it is inexplicable and undermines the severity of religious freedom violations in the country.