Christian Rights Entity Fears for Disruption of Nigerian Elections amid Increased Attacks

Credit: CSW

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a UK-based human rights foundation, has raised alarm over heightened killings allegedly by Fulani men in Nigerian States and expressed fears that the deteriorating security in the country may disrupt the general elections slated for February 25.

CSW has reported that on February 5 alone, five people were killed and scores injured in separate attacks in which “armed men of Fulani extraction” attacked residents of the Maiyanga community and Mabel village. Both territories are in Bokkos Local Government Area (LGA) of Nigeria’s Plateau State.

Local sources told the Christian human rights foundation that armed men of Fulani ethnicity descended on Maiyanga village on motorcycles at around 7 p.m. and began shooting at people who were relaxing outside their homes.

The sources said that although security agents were alerted by villagers, they arrived at Maiyanga after the militia had left.

Highlighting several other incidents of killings and kidnappings in Nigeria’s Plateau State, CSW notes in its Thursday, February 9 report that attacks in the West African nation paint a grim picture of the country that is in the electioneering period.


“These latest attacks are occurring ahead of crucial elections, and follow heightened concerns that the various armed non-state actors which currently target citizens across the country, and which were officially designated as terrorists in a January 2022 government Gazette, are planning to unleash a fresh wave violence on predominantly Christian areas to disenfranchise residents and disrupt the elections,” the foundation has asserted.

CSW has further reported that militia has been targeting villages in Bokkos LGA for several months, and explains, “In one of the most disturbing incidents, 11 people were killed and eight were injured following an attack on the Maikatako community on the evening of 15 November 2022 in which three houses were burnt down.”

Plateau State is located in Nigeria’s “Middle Belt”, an area known as the nation’s breadbasket where attacks on non-Muslim farming communities have been underway since 2010, centering particularly on Plateau, southern Kaduna, and Benue States.

CSW says that the attacks increased exponentially in frequency and geographical scope under the current administration, disrupting farming activities and raising credible concerns about a hunger gap.

According to the Christian human rights foundation, initial narratives that attributed the violence in Nigeria to climate change and competition for resources are not true.

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The attacks are purely driven by religious fanaticism, the foundation notes, adding, “An asymmetry in frequency and weaponry, the targeting of minority ethnic communities who overwhelmingly espouse a particular faith, and the occupation of land by assailants following the forced displacement of indigenous groups indicate it has evolved into a campaign of ethno religious-cleansing.”

CSW’s Founder President, Mervyn Thomas, expresses the foundation’s dismay at the developments in Nigeria, saying, “CSW is appalled once again by the violence waged on vulnerable communities in central Nigeria on an almost daily basis.”

“We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of those killed in these recent attacks, and wish the injured a full and swift recovery,” Mr. Mervyn says in the February 9 report, and adds, “It is unacceptable that these attacks continue unabated with no meaningful intervention from the state or federal government, particularly given their potential to disrupt voter engagement in the upcoming elections.”

The CSW Founder President calls on the States in Nigeria to challenge the country’s federal government on its failures at every opportunity in bilateral and multilateral engagement. 

He also underlines the need for the international community to remain fully engaged in whatever is happening in Nigeria “to ensure these crucial elections are transparent and free from coercion and violence.”


Despite all this, Nigeria remains one of the countries that the United States (U.S.) State Department has struck out of its Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list amid protests from some quarters.

Nigeria was removed from the CPC list in November 2021, after having been added for the first time in 2020.

On February 7, an unnamed U.S. Department of State official told EWTN correspondent Owen Jensen, “After careful review, the Secretary [of State] has assessed that Nigeria does not meet the legal threshold for designation under the International Religious Freedom Act.”

“The United States takes all incidents of violence seriously and raises them regularly in our conversations with Nigerian officials,” the official’s statement in response to an inquiry from the EWTN correspondent further read in part.

The statement comes as human rights advocates and members of Congress are pressing the Joe Biden administration to place Nigeria on the watch list in an effort to stop the violence and persecution of Christians in Africa’s most populous nation.

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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.