Nigeria is constitutionally a secular state with freedom of religion. But the northern ruling elite give preferential treatment to Muslims and discriminate against Christians. Little has been done to stem the growth of violent Islamist groups or to stop persecution of Christians in the north, resulting in hundreds of churches burned and many Christians killed. Since 1999, Muslim state leaders have imposed Shariah law in 12 northern states and parts of four others.

The scale of persecution of Christians by Muslims has accelerated in Nigeria’s northern states and as far south as the central plateau. It has caused the death of thousands, including pastors, and the destruction of hundreds, even thousands, of churches.

December 2010 was a particularly deadly month for Nigerian Christians. Fulani Muslims attacked a village in Plateau state, killing seven and injuring four. Christmas Eve attacks in and around Jos killed 31 and left more than 70 were injured. In Borno state, a Baptist pastor and five other Christians were killed when militants set fire to a church and detonated bombs out front of it. In January 2010, an outbreak of riots in Jos left 300 dead. Ten churches were burned down. A similar night attack in Dogo Nahawa in March 2010 left more than 500 dead.

Prayer Requests

  • Pray  Christians in Nigeria will demonstrate the love of Christ as they face opposition.
  • Pray for the cruelty and injustices of Shariah to be exposed.
  • Pray that one law, with equality for all, will govern the nation of Nigeria.
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Nigeria Profile

155,215,573 (July 2011 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups; the following are the most populous and politically influential: Hausa and Fulani (29), Yoruba (21), Igbo [Ibo] (18), Ijaw (10), Kanuri (4), Ibibio (3.5), Tiv (2.5)

Religion (%)
Christian (51.26), Muslim (45.12), Ethnoreligionist (3.31), Non-religious (0.30), Other (0.01)

President Goodluck Jonathan

Government type
Federal republic

Legal system
Based on English common law, Islamic law (in 12 northern states) and traditional law

Statistics provided by CIA World Factbook and Operation World.