Nigeria may have some of the largest churches and most popular preachers on the African continent but a new report has found that it is among the most dangerous country for Christians in West Africa.
The annual report by the Open Doors World Watch List, a global monitoring body, ranked Nigeria 12th in a global list of the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to follow Jesus.
According to the report, Nigeria with its mammoth congregations and numerous prosperity theologists is the home of over 91 million Christians.
However, it recorded a score for violence primarily due to the increased attacks on Christian communities by militant Fulani herdsmen.
Nigeria has Christianity and Islam as its main religions.
Joined by fellow West African nation Mali (ranked 24th) on the list, it emerged the most unwelcome place for Christians in West Africa
“These attacks claimed the lives of hundreds of believers during the reporting period, and villages and churches burned to the ground,” the report said.
“Additionally, in parts of northern Nigeria, Christians are treated as second-class citizens. Christians from Muslim backgrounds face persecution from their own families”.
The report also urged Christians around the world to pray for their Nigerian counterparts, who are facing increased hostility and attacks from Hausa-Fulani Muslim militant herdsmen.
“Pray for Fulani militants, the members of Boko Haram and other extremist groups. Pray that God will touch their hearts with His truth.
“Often, the government of Nigeria has been accused of being slow or unwilling to address attacks against Christians. Pray for courage and for peace”.
In December last year, a Nigerian Bishop William Amove Avenya, of Gboko Diocese, said attacks against Christians had become a forgotten tragedy and posed a much greater threat to Nigeria’s Christian community than Islamist terrorism.
He said the mostly Muslim herdsmen had killed more people in 2018 than Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram.
‘But no one is doing anything about it,’ he said.
According to the 2018 Global Terrorism Index, Fulani extremists are believed to have killed as many as 1,700 people in Nigeria between January and September this year.
For the 18th consecutive year, the atheist republic of North Korea was ranked the most anti-Christian country.
The atheist nation was followed on the list by Muslim nations; Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya and Pakistan.
Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran and India completed the top 10.
Top 10 countries where it is most dangerous to follow Jesus:
1. North Korea
What is the World Watch List?
The World Watch List is an annual report on the global persecution of Christians ranking the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith. Released at the beginning of each year, the list uses data from Open Doors field workers and external experts to quantify and analyze persecution worldwide.
How are the countries ranked?
Countries are ranked by the severity of persecution of Christians, calculated by analyzing the level of violent persecution plus the pressure experienced in five spheres of life including; the Degree of Pressure in Christian life and violence against Christians and the church.