Crisis in Nigeria “increasingly looks like a jihad against Christians”: Catholic Bishop

Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe of Nigeria's Makurdi Diocese. Credit: Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)

The crisis in Nigeria seems to be a war against Christians in the West African nation, the Catholic Bishop of the country’s Makurdi Diocese has said. 

In a message published Friday, December 17 by the Pontifical charity organization, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe says the destruction of churches, Christian schools, and the killing of Priests and Pastors in the country demonstrate that the attacks target followers of Christ.

“The government and some others would have the world believe the violence in Nigeria has nothing to do with religion, however, it increasingly looks like a jihad against Christians,” Bishop Anagbe says.

He explains that the perpetrators of the attacks “come from mainly the far north of Nigeria and are mainly Muslim adherents.”

“Their destructive pattern mirrors other Islamic terror groups operating in other climes, and some of these Nigerian groups have professed allegiance to Islamist groups like ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISWAP (Islamic State’s West African Province),” he says, adding that all the attackers “are extremists.” 


For years, Bishop Anagbe adds, the extremists have targeted Christian schools and churches “making sure the population feels helpless, becomes hungry and destitute immediately, and illiterate in the medium term.”

 “Across other parts of Nigeria, dastardly actions directed at Christians because of their faith have been commonplace. These include instances of pastoral agents such as priests and nuns being kidnapped and only released after the payment of ransom. Some are brutally murdered even after ransoms are paid for their release,” the Nigerian Bishop says.

He adds that the destruction of churches and medical facilities “points to the fact that this terror is faith-based and intended to extinguish the Christian populations and the Christian faith”.

The Catholic Bishop who was addressing the November 30 to December 1 conference on Pastoral Life and Security Forum, focusing on the persecution of Christians in Burkina Faso highlights the killing of seminarian Michael Nnadi and Fr. Felix Tyolaha and Fr. Joseph Gor of the Diocese of Makurdi as cases that show Christians are targeted. 

To address the crises, Bishop Anagbe said there is need for Christians and Muslims in the West African nation to have “an open discussion about the role of faith in society.”

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“On a day such as this, we need to tell one another a thing or two; we need to look the other person in the face and say what we feel inside. I feel some furious anger, some hot anger inside me; yes, we need to be outraged by the events happening in our country, of religious persecution, or else we will descend into total anarchy with our pious and meaningless hypocrisy of political correctness,” Bishop Anagbe says. 

He notes that maintaining one's "equilibrium" after witnessing the atrocities may be difficult. 

The Bishop however says that religious leaders have a duty to ensure the people remain optimistic about their future. 

"Our role as God’s ministers is that of inspiring hope," he says, and adds, "The pain is great, and the wounds will take time to heal; without faith we cannot please God and this faith must be practical." 

He continues, “As leaders, the challenge we face demands that we take practical steps of faith to heal and restore the hope of the people." 


"As leaders also, we must demonstrate the required tenacity to remove the humiliation from our brothers and sisters whose dignity and rights have been constantly abused by a people bent on exterminating them just for the difference of their belief," says the Bishop of Makurdi. 

He further calls on the Muslim faithful in the country to “take a hard look at the theological content of their preaching since we do believe that some of their teachings promote violence.” 

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.