More Christians have been killed in Nigeria since President Joe Biden’s administration declared there were no religious freedom violations in the country in October 2021, according to watchdogs and church leaders speaking to The Epoch Times.
In the first half of 2022, more than 2,543 Nigerian Christians were murdered by Islamists, according to the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety).
The figure represents an 8.6 percent increase from a total of 4650 Christian murders reported by Open Doors International.
It includes 350 murders by government security forces propagating an Islamic agenda, says the report signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, the board chairman of Intersociety, and five others.
Also included are 140 Christian hostages killed by their Muslim abductors.
Analysts speaking to The Epoch Times have called for global action to avert an Islamic caliphate in Africa’s most populous nation.
Last October, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken dropped Nigeria from the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) sparking criticism from around the world.
Blinken had ignored recommendations from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and global rights groups that pointed to endemic violations in the country.
The USCIRF, an agency that monitors the state of global religious freedom, is tasked with issuing recommendations as to the countries it believes should be designated as countries of concern for their religious liberty violations.
Nigeria had been designated in the previous year by then-president Donald Trump’s administration on such recommendations.
The delisting of Nigeria means that the country had improved its religious conditions and would no longer face sanctions on the basis of it.
“On the contrary, the situation in Nigeria has grown worse,” argued five U.S. senators in a memo demanding the country’s redesignation.
Senators Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Mike Brawn (R-Indiana), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), and James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma)—in a joint memo described the decision as misguided.
“Given the abysmal state of religious freedom in Nigeria, it is incumbent upon you to reverse last year’s decision and redesignate the country as a CPC. The moment demands that you do so without delay,” the memo adds.
The senators cited the recent blasphemy lynching of Deborah Emmanuel—a Christian college student murdered in northwest Sokoto state—and the massacre of more than 40 parishioners at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, in southwest Ondo state.
They also acknowledged Nigerian authorities’ “crackdown on religious minorities and detain individuals indefinitely on blasphemy-related charges.”
Nigeria’s information minister Lai Mohammed admitted on July 5 that ISIS terrorists attack churches and Christians in the country’s northeast.
Mohammed rehashed claims by genocide deniers that killings in other regions are not religious.
“Nobody in Nigeria is being persecuted, but we have issues of criminality going on and the criminals really do not make [a] distinction of any religion,” Mohammed told reporters in London.
But Salihu Garba, a native of Sokoto state in northwest Nigeria who currently lives in the United States and serves as a minister with the Evangelical Church Winning All in Maryland, told The Epoch Times Christians are the targets of Nigerian Muslim extremists.
“They occasionally attack nominal Muslims as well as ethnic and religious minorities whom they perceive to have sympathy for Christians,” said Garba in a phone interview.
On April 2, a popular Islamic cleric in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja, Sheikh Muhammad Nuru Khalid was fired by his mosque for condemning the killings.
Khalid, a member of the Hausa ethnicity, told The Epoch Times he was threatened after being fired for his comments.
“But I am not intimidated because the killings are real and I am called to build and not destroy humanity,” he said.
Vice-chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the country’s north, Rev. Joseph Hayab told The Epoch Times that Mohammed’s prolonged denial of the murders was encouraging impunity in the country chiefly ruled by Fulani Muslims.
“Nigerian Christians are not safe and are constantly living in fear,” wrote Hayab in a text message. “Today, many pastors are afraid to take pastoral work in some communities,” he wrote.
Open Doors International, a group that monitors worldwide persecution of Christians, reported in 2021 that 4,650 Christians—or 80 per cent of the world’s Christians killed for their faith—died in Nigeria.
That means 13 Christians a day were murdered according to William Murray, the president of Religious Freedom Coalition.
A new report by Intersociety, said attacks on Christians have increased in the past six months.
“The 2,543 Christian killings or deaths indicated that 14 [Christians] were killed daily and 420 monthly,” says the report obtained by The Epoch Times and confirmed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, the board chairman of Intersociety.
The report shows the top three states include northwest Kaduna with 323 deaths, followed by central Niger (264 deaths). Plateau also in the central region trails closely with 229 deaths.
Figures include 140 murders of kidnapped Christians in terrorist hands. Also included are what are said to be 350 targeted religious murders by security forces.
The figures could be a lot higher, said Mark Lipdo, the programme coordinator of Stefanos Foundation, an organization that tracks religious killings in Nigeria.
“We can count the number of Christians killed in Plateau, Southern Kaduna, Benue, and other places but can you count the number of Christians killed in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and other parts of the north?” asked Lipdo in a telephone interview with The Epoch Times.
“Nobody goes there to cover the stories,” said Lipdo.
The Epoch Times has reported how terrorists and officials are suppressing press freedom through targeted attacks and intimidation of reporters.
Epoch Times’ reporter Luka Binniyat was the latest journalist to be jailed in Kaduna for reporting attacks.
The attacks causing population displacements across the country are aimed at religious and political domination, said Lipdo.
“Their target is to create an Islamic empire,” he said.
Garba gave a parallel opinion: “The plan is to exterminate Christianity in the whole of Nigeria. Where they don’t succeed with that, they will reduce Christianity to a level where it will no longer be a threat to Islam,” he said.
According to a member of the Nigerian House of Representatives Solomon Maren as many as a quarter of Nigeria’s 200 million population has been displaced by radical Islamists in recent years.
“In fact, local governments have been displaced,” said Maren in a telephone interview with The Epoch Times. “Many of the communities have been taken over by the attackers.”
After the brazen attack on Catholic worshippers at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo town in Ondo State, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) noted the significant spread of violence against Christians and new threats in Nigeria that cannot be ignored.
“Previously, Ondo had not seen major militant activity, and the attack indicates the southward migration of terror towards Christian-majority regions as well as Nigeria’s oil-producing areas,” said Smith in a letter to Victoria Nuland, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs.
A former Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, the capital of southeast Imo state, Anthony Obinna told The Epoch Times several territories in the region have been seized by Islamic militants.
“Those areas have become no-go zones for Christians,” said Obinna in a phone interview.
Local officials have confirmed the annexations.
In a statement on June 7, Abia state governor Okezie Ikpeazu ordered a military raid of forests allegedly seized by terrorists in the state.
The Prelate of the Methodist Church in Nigeria Dr Kalu Samuel Uche was recently kidnapped near one of the forests known as Isuochi.
The large tropical rain forest located in the Umunneochi county of Abia borders all nine states in Nigeria’s southeast.
“As long as the perpetrators can continue with impunity there’s no indication that there will be an end to the killings,” wrote British parliamentarian Baroness Caroline Cox to The Epoch Times.
“There’s an urgent need for the Nigerian government and the international community to call the perpetrators to account,” Cox wrote in a text message.
“Until and unless they do so, they can be seen to be complicit,” she wrote.


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