Over 2,000 Christians killed in Nigeria this year - report

A funeral for victims of a Boko Haram attack.(Photo: Reuters)

At least 2,200 Christians were killed by Islamist extremists in Nigeria in 2020, according to a new report. 

Nigeria-based NGO the International Society for Civil Liberties put the total number of deaths of Christians since 2009 at 32,400, with a further 20,000 moderate Muslims killed in this time.

The report blames much of the violence against Christians on radicalised Fulani herdsmen, and accuses the Nigerian government of trying to cover up what it calls "Fulani Jihadism". 

Society head Emeka Umeagbalasi said that militants were taking "clandestine control of state power", while violence by Fulani herdsmen represented the "most dangerous dimension" to radical Islamism in Nigeria. 

"To cover up these, the present Nigerian government has also created an international machinery of falsehood and propaganda with well-funded or oiled international lobbying campaigns targeted at misinforming and misleading key and strategic international legislative, diplomatic and democratic institutions or bodies especially the EU, US, UK and Australia and their Parliaments; the Commonwealth and the UN and other internationally respected state and non-state actors," the report said.

Umeagbalasi accused the Nigerian government of presenting a "script" that blames the violence on desertification and conflicts between local farmers when the "truth is that Fulani tribesmen travel south because they are radical Islamists looking for Christians to kill." 

"They don't attack Muslim villages, and traditional cattle-grazing methods don't support enough cows to justify fatal conflicts with farmers," he said. 

He accused the Nigerian government of suppressing the nature of the attacks out of support for the radical Islamists, as he warned that the violence blighting the north of the country will soon spread to the rest of the country.

"The country is being taken over by the caliphate. When they are done in the north, they will now come to the south," he said. 

Christian Solidarity Worldwide founder Mervyn Thomas warned this week that Nigeria is at risk of becoming a failed state unless it gets a handle of the violence. 

"The government's continuing inability to deal decisively with terrorism in the northeast, militia activity in the centre and parts of the south, armed banditry in the northwest, and abductions for ransom nationwide, is indicative of a catastrophic failure of the entire security structure," he said. 

The warning came days after hundreds of schoolboys were kidnapped from their school in Katsina state. Over 300 boys have since been released, although it is not clear if any remain in captivity. 

The Boko Haram terrorist group claimed responsibility for the abductions.