Factsheet: Religious Freedom in Nigeria

The first three months of 2020 clearly demonstrate that the Nigerian government’s actions have been insufficient to curb the tide of violence, killings, and abductions caused by militant groups in the Northeast and throughout the Middle Belt.

According to International Christian Concern’s research, there have been 200 violent incidents involving terrorist or militant groups throughout Nigeria. According to the Armed Conflict Locator and Event Database, there were only 4 days in the first quarter of 2020 with no attacks—January 16, February 7, February 28, and March 22. This list, however, does not include the many smaller attacks that take place and never reach the news.

In the first three months of 2020 there were at least 766 deaths related to terror or militant activity. Most of these were Boko Haram militants and military personnel, with Christian farmers making up the next largest number of deaths.

105 members of the Nigerian military and police forces died in a total of 130 incidents involving Boko Haram. However, only 4 died in incidents involving Fulani militants across the 70 incidents. The area of attacks has also increased in Nigeria. Many attacks now take place in states further south in the country. States such as Delta, Edo, Rivers, Ondo, and Ogun have started seeing attacks in the recent months. In previous years, these states saw little to no violence of this sort. This spread of attacks has led to the country becoming more divided and tensions increasing between ethnic groups and along religious lines.

Despite the large number and varied sources of these attacks the government only deals with Boko Haram and continues to turn a blind eye to Fulani militant aggression. This is demonstrated by the number of clashes between military and militant groups. The Nigerian military was involved in 105 tracked incidents relating to Boko Haram. This accounts for about 81% of incidents involving Boko Haram. However, for incidents involving Fulani militants in the Middle Belt, the Nigerian military or police were only involved in 10 out of 70. This is only 14% of incidents involving Fulani militants.

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