Alarm as Over 6,000 Christians “hacked to death” in Nigeria in Fifteen Months: Report

Mass burial for victims of persecution in Nigeria. Credit: Intersociety

A total of 6,006 Christians in Nigeria were hacked to death from January 2021 to March 2022, a recent investigation has established, noting that the number has doubled in recent years.

The 2022 report by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) notes that in three months (January to March 2022) alone, more than 900 Christians were killed by Boko Haram militants and armed Fulani herdsmen.

“The country has in the past fifteen months or January 2021 to March 2022 recorded total Christian deaths of no fewer than 6006,” Intersociety says in the report dated April 5, adding, “In the first three months of 2022 or January to March, not less than 915 have been killed.”

The human rights foundation that advocates for the fostering and advancement of democracy and good governance championed through research, investigation, documentation, publications, and campaigns indicates that the year 2021 ended “disastrously” for Christians and their sacred places of worship with the killing of 5,191 Christians.

The figure includes 25 Priests and Pastors who were either murdered or abducted, Intersociety reports, adding that there were attacks on, and destruction of between 400 and 420 churches and other Christian centers.


The entity that is comprised of human rights researchers further notes that not less than 3,800 Christians were abducted “with scores, if not many feared killed in captivity by jihadists.”

“While 4,400 Christians were killed between January and Sept 2021, additional 700 others were killed between Oct and December 2021 and they included 231 Christian deaths perpetrated by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and Jihadist Fulani Bandits and about 70 killed by Boko Haram and ISWAP (Islamic State in West Africa Province),” reads the report.

The entity that has been monitoring and investigating religious persecution and other forms of religious violence by State and non-State actors across Nigeria since 2010 highlights one of Nigeria’s largest ethnic groups, saying, “No fewer than 400 defenseless Igbo civilian Christians were killed by security forces in open street shootings and killings and closed custodial killings quarters in Old Eastern Nigeria.”

They further highlight the ill-famed Nasarawa Tiv Christian massacre of 20 December 2021 in which more than 50 Christians were hacked to death. 

Founded in 2008, Intersociety is led by graduate experts in the fields of criminology, security studies, law, peace studies, conflict resolution, journalism and other areas of expertise in Nigeria. 

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The monitoring and investigation of religious persecution is done through the use of direct contacts with the victims, eyewitnesses, media tracking, review of credible local and international reports, interviews, and closed sources among other methods.  

The 2022 report seen by ACI Africa was signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Intersociety’s Lead Investigator and Board Chair, and four other officials of the foundation.

The team notes that owing to the rampant killings targeting Christians in Nigeria, the country qualifies as a place where people are hacked the most in the whole world because of their religious beliefs.

“The Federal Republic of Nigeria and its governing authorities ended the year 2021 as the most hostile country in the world to practice Faith Freedom or Freedom of Worship and peacefully showcase Ethnic Identity. Nigeria also became ‘the Greatest Enemy of Christian Faith and its Faithful or Members in the World’ and ‘a country with the world’s largest Christian deaths for the Year 2021,’ the team of researchers says in the report circulated April 8.

The human rights activists say the most affected Nigerian States by militant attacks include Niger, Kaduna, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Taraba, Kebbi, and Borno.


With 213 Christian deaths, Nigeria’s Niger State is the worst hit with parts of Shiroro, Munya and Rafi Local Government Areas experiencing most killings and abductions, the report indicates.

Niger State is followed by Southern Kaduna with 143 deaths, Taraba 130 deaths, Benue 72 deaths, Plateau 62 deaths, Ondo/Ogun 40 deaths, Kebbi 20 deaths, Enugu 20 deaths, Edo/Delta 15 deaths and Nasarawa, Kogi, Abia and Imo with 10 deaths each.

Intersociety reports that Boko Haram and ISWAP are believed to have killed no fewer than 60 Christians in the past three months ended March 2022, adding, “The Nigerian security forces had also in the past three months accounted for not less than seventy Igbo civilian deaths.”

“A dark figure of 70 Christian deaths was added to represent undetected other victims which grandly brings the total number of Christians killed for their belief in the country in the past three months of 2022 to no fewer than 915. At least six Christian clerics were abducted or killed and not less than twenty Christian places of worship attacked or destroyed,” the human rights entity reports.

From the Intersociety report findings, about 3,800 Christians were abducted in Nigeria in 2021.

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In the first three months of 2022, over 700 anti-Christian abductions had taken place with Christian parts of Niger State topping the list with at least 400 abductions, Intersociety has reported.

“Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen have also abducted no fewer than 30 defenseless Igbo Christians in the past three months or January to March 2022 in Enugu, Abia and Imo States and killed not less than 20 in Isi-Uzo and Uzo-Uwani parts of Enugu State,” the human rights foundation says. 

Intersociety had, in a report last year, revealed that 43,000 Christians were hacked to death by jihadists and their collaborators in Nigeria between July 2009 and August 2021, while estimated 18,500 others had disappeared without traces.

The agency also estimated in the report last year that a total of 17,500 churches and over 2000 Christian schools were attacked, 10 million Northern Christians uprooted and six million forced to flee their homes to avoid being hacked to death by the jihadists.

The 2021 report further found that as much as 29,000 moderate and defenseless Muslims lost their lives, out of 72,000 total deaths perpetrated on ethno-religious grounds.

Over 500 Christian communities in Northern Nigeria were also ransacked and taken over by the Jihadists, Intersociety reported last year, recounting insurgency in Africa’s most populous nation.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.