A Firsthand Account of the Violence against Christians in Nigeria

Clint Lyons | Co-Founder, Executive Director of iReach Global | Updated: Feb 08, 2024
A Firsthand Account of the Violence against Christians in Nigeria

A Firsthand Account of the Violence against Christians in Nigeria

Central Nigeria has become engulfed in a wave of horrific violence that would shock the world if people only knew about it. Instead, it remains a silent massacre, largely neglected by the world’s news media.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Christian men, women, and children have been relentlessly targeted by Muslim Fulani herdsmen and slaughtered since Christmas, leaving behind a trail of devastation and despair.

I witnessed firsthand the aftermath of these brutal attacks in a recent visit to the area. One pastor in the Mangu region told me:

“I was in a nearby village when my brother called me and told me he was under attack. I came as quickly as I could, and I saw the Fulani in their numbers — more than 1,000 — shooting everywhere and setting hoses on fire. Every home they entered, the first thing they did was take all the food and valuables before they would set fire to the house. The first attack here killed 38 people, and the second attack killed more than 40.”

He learned later that their first target had been the church, where they piled plastic chairs together and set them ablaze.

“Those of us who remain, around 200 right now where there were previously more than 2,000, are really struggling,” he said. “Most of the people have gone to a local camp for internally displaced persons, while others have scattered. Because all of our crops have been destroyed, we’re fully reliant on the help of others for daily survival. But not everyone is receiving the relief. Right now, I’m just praying that peace would be restored and that security would be brought back to the community.”

After this interview, the pastor’s brother died in a follow-up attack. And video footage obtained from another village showed scenes of unimaginable horror, with lifeless bodies of villagers on the ground, including women with babies strapped to their backs.

"The single worst place in the world to be a Christian is in western Africa, particularly in parts of Nigeria," the Rev. Johnnie Moore,  a former member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, told Fox News Digital.

Various groups estimate that 50,000 Christians have been killed since 2009 in Nigeria. This conflict between Christian farmers and Muslim Fulani herders has been going on for decades, often intensified by competition over land resources and religious differences.

Two critical things need to happen to address this rapidly escalating crisis and bring about lasting change.

First, the Nigerian government must acknowledge the severity of the situation, take steps to protect the vulnerable, and ensure justice for the victims and their oppressors. Many Nigerian Christians feel that their suffering is being overlooked, heightening distrust of the authorities.

We as Americans must send a strong message to our elected officials that the Nigerian government, which receives more than $1 billion in financial aid annually from the US, cannot continue to ignore the plight of its people.

Second, there is a deep need for practical assistance from the global community, particularly from other Christians. One of the best ways to do that is through various NGOs and nonprofits that work in the country.

The world, perhaps distracted by the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, needs to start paying attention.  The silent massacre in Nigeria is a tragic reminder of the human cost of unresolved conflicts and the urgent need for action to protect vulnerable communities and promote peace.

The West cannot afford to remain silent or indifferent. Let us join hands with the persecuted Christians in Nigeria and advocate for justice, peace, and dignity for all.

This is a time for prayer, but it is also a time for action, for the sake of those who have suffered and for the hope of a better tomorrow.

Image credit: ©Getty Images/Joseph Egabor

Clint Lyons is co-founder and executive director of iReach Global, a Christian nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and empowering persecuted Christians across Africa. For more information or to help victims of the Nigerian conflict, visit iReachGlobal.org.



A Firsthand Account of the Violence against Christians in Nigeria