Nigeria

World Watch ranking: 9
Map thumbnail
Leader
President Muhammadu Buhari

How many Christians?
95.4 million (46.3%)

Main threat
  • Religious nationalism

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How many Christians are there in Nigeria?

Almost half of Nigerians are Christians – 95.4 million people from a population of 206.2 million – but most of these are in the south of the country. Northern Nigeria is largely Muslim, and it’s in the north and the central region of Nigeria that most persecution of Christians happens. 

How are Christians persecuted in Nigeria? 

More Christians are murdered for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country. Violent attacks by Boko Haram, Fulani militants, ISWAP (an affiliate of so-called Islamic State) and other Islamic extremist groups are common in the north and middle belt of the country, and are becoming more common further south. 

In these attacks, Christians are often murdered or have their property and means of livelihood destroyed. Men and boys are particularly vulnerable to being killed, with the intention of lowering the birth rate of Christian communities and removing their sources of income. Perpetrators are seldom brought to justice. Christian women are often abducted and raped by these militant groups, and sometimes forced to marry Muslims. 

Christians from a Muslim background face rejection by and pressure from their families. Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency (2015 onwards) has seen a sharp increase in attempts to force Islamisation on the country, including appointing Muslims to key government positions. 

Meet Martina

“God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank you, Open Doors, for being a family and a source of hope to my children and me.”Martina

What’s life like for Christians in Nigeria? 

Martina’s husband, Pastor Joseph, was brutally murdered by Fulani militants. She was left to look after her four daughters and three sons alone. Many communities in northern Nigeria have also suffered these attacks – men and boys are killed, women and girls are raped, and buildings and possessions are destroyed. Fulani militants leave a terrible wake of trauma and pain behind them, targeting people just because they follow Jesus. 

“We had nowhere to go,” remembers Martina. “Our only solution was to move into an incomplete building.” 

Open Doors partners were able to help Martina and her children with rebuilding her home, thanks to your gifts and prayers. “At first, I thought I was dreaming, but today it has become a reality,” says Martina. “God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank you, Open Doors, for being a family and a source of hope to my children and me. This house is a ministry that God has given to me, to encourage other widows to hold on to God and not lose hope. He who has used Open Doors to wipe my tears will do the same for them.” 

Is it getting harder to be a Christian in Nigeria? 

Nigeria has risen several places on the World Watch List, and persecution has worsened in all areas of public and private life. Violence continues to be extreme, and Islamic extremist attacks have not abated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many Christians who are staying at home to combat the spread of the virus have been vulnerable to attack. 

How can I help Christians in Nigeria? 

Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost. 

Open Doors partners with the local church to strengthen persecuted believers in Nigeria through discipleship and persecution survival training, education and community development projects, emergency relief and trauma care.  

please pray

Lord God, we lift up our brothers and sisters in Nigeria facing extreme violence and other forms of persecution. Comfort those who mourn, we pray, and replace their weeping with joy. Heal their trauma and show them who they are in Your eyes. Protect Christian communities from Islamic extremist attacks, and transform the hearts of those who persecute believers so ruthlessly. Amen.

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