Human rights activists have warned Nigeria is headed toward Christian “genocide” if global action is not taken quickly.
A Nigerian civil society organization estimates around 43,000 Christians have been killed by Nigerian Islamic radicals in the last 12 years, while 18,500 have permanently disappeared and 17,500 churches have been attacked.
The Anambra-based International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) published a new report this week, estimating that about 10 million people have been uprooted in northern Nigeria, where extremist violence is most severe, from July 2009 to July 2021.
During that time, the report states, about 2,000 Christian schools were attacked.
The atrocities include “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 reports.
Intersociety said the mass violence has resulted from the “propagation of radical Islamism.”
Intersociety is an organization headed by Christian criminologist Emeka Umeagbalasi and relies on what it deems to be credible media reports, government accounts, reports from international rights groups and eyewitness accounts to compile statistical data.
However, a lack of adequate government record-keeping means that death tolls reported by media outlets or the government are estimates that can often be skewed.
“The total number of ‘direct’ Christian deaths since 2009 or from July 2009 to July 2021; a period of twelve years, is independently put at no fewer than 43,000,” the report reads. “The figure arises from total jihadist killing of not less than 72,000 defenseless citizens.”
“The total number of moderate Muslims killed by the Jihadists since same July 2009 is independently put at 29,000,” the report continued. “Of the no fewer than 43,000 Christian deaths, 20% or over 8,600 deaths are members of the Church of Brethren in Nigeria or EYN.”
The deaths, the report explains, are a result of “systematic and coordinated attacks” carried about by Islamic extremists and their collaborators.
The report comes as international human rights advocates have long voiced concern over the increasing violence in Nigeria.
In the northeast, groups like Islamic State and Boko Haram have attacked civilian communities, killing and abducting thousands. In the farm-rich center of the country, attacks have been carried out against predominantly Christian farming communities by suspected radicalized Fulani herders, many of which are Muslim. However, advocates for the herders claim that youths from the farming communities have also attacked their communities in reprisal attacks.
In another report released in July, Intersociety reported that 3,400 Christians had been killed by extremists since January, which nearly surpasses the number of Christian deaths estimated in Nigeria for all of 2020.