On June 24, Nigeria was full of the blood of Christians as Muslim herders clashed with Christian farmers. Fulani herdsman, who are predominately Muslim, attacked six villages in Nigeria’s Plateau state. These villages are home to many Christians. Many of those killed were Christians, and they were reportedly hacked to death.
As a result of this violence, many people have been forced to leave their farms and villages or face the threat of a grisly death. President Muhammadu Buhari has deployed military and police units to stop the bloodshed.
He tweeted, “The grievous loss of lives and property arising from the killings in Plateau is painful and regrettable. My deepest condolences to the affected communities. We will not rest until all murderers and criminal elements and their sponsors are incapacitated and brought to justice.”
The fuel behind these recent clashes between the religious groups is due to dwindling water and pasture resources, a direct result of Nigeria’s rising population. The estimated number of people killed by these clashes just this year is around 500 with central Nigeria being the most affected as people fight over access to land, water, and food.
However, some Christian farmers were not content to sit idly after being attacked. Many of them led an attack of their own on Muslim villages. These deadly clashes are not just seen as a battle over scarce land and farming resources; but as a religious war between Christians and Muslims. Some are claiming that the president, who is of the Muslim faith, is not doing enough to protect Christian communities.
These sentiments were expressed by Bosun Emmanuel, a secretary of the National Christians Elders Forum and a prominent Nigerian Christian leader. During a recent forum, he expressed his views over the matter, “Realistically speaking, Christianity is on the brink of extinction in Nigeria. The ascendancy of Sharia ideology in Nigeria rings the death knell for the Nigerian Church.”
Boko Haram holds the title for the most well-known Islamic terrorist group in Africa. They have claimed responsibility for the many attacks on Christians homes and churches and currently, hold many young girls captive. Many people, the majority of whom are Christians, have lost their lives due to this terrorist group. Some estimate the death toll to be more than 20,000 since 2009.
Due to this threat that Nigerian Christians are facing, Emmanuel believes that Christianity will cease to exist in Nigeria 25 years from now.
“In 2018, we can say in 25 years from now, we are facing the risk of being the last Christians in Nigeria. Therefore, Christians should be in the frontline of defending democracy in Nigeria.”
In an effort to control these violent clashes, the governor of Plateau state has imposed a curfew of 18:00 pm to 06:00 am.
While many believe that these continuous killings of Christians might spell doom for the Christian faith in Nigeria, I firmly hold the belief that GOD’S true people will continue to stand, even in the face of death. I appeal to all Christians to pray for their fellow brothers and sisters in Nigeria.
Resources: CBN News ‘The Death Knell for the Nigerian Church’: New Massacre Sparks Fear for Christians