Year: 2021
World Watch List: 09
Score: 85
Leader: President Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari
Population: 206 million
Christian: 95.4 million
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Federal Republic
Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression
In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the church in Nigeria through:
  • Discipleship
  • persecution survival training
  • Community development projects
  • Emergency relief
  • Trauma care
  • Legal assistance

Meet “Martina”

God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank you, Open Doors, for being a family and a source of hope to my children and me. This house is a ministry that God has given to me, to encourage other widows to hold on to God and not lose hope. He who has used Open Doors to wipe my tears will do the same for them.” 


Persecution type: Islamic oppression/Ethno-religious hostility/Islamic oppression /Organized corruption and crime

What does persecution look like in Nigeria?

More Christians are murdered for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country. Violent attacks by Boko Haram, Hausa-Fulani Muslim militant herdsmen, ISWAP (an affiliate of ISIS) and other Islamic extremist groups are common in the north and middle belt of the country, and are becoming more common farther south. 

In these attacks, Christians are often murdered or have their property and means of livelihood destroyed. Men and boys are particularly vulnerable to being killed. The women and children left behind are very vulnerable and living testimonies to the power of the attackers. Perpetrators are seldom brought to justice. Christian women are often abducted and raped by these militant groups, and sometimes forced to marry Muslims. 

Christians from a Muslim background face rejection by and pressure from their families. Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency (2015 onwards) has seen a sharp increase in attempts to force Islamization on the country, including appointing Muslims to key government positions.

Many Christians who are driven out of their villages and away from their sources of livelihood are forced to become internally displaced persons (IDPs), often living in informal IDP camps. Given the continuous occupation of their villages by Fulani militants, the lack of government support, the lack of proper education for their children and the high vulnerability of IDPs, these believers continue to suffer even after the brutality of the initial persecution.  

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Persecution, and especially violent attacks, are most prevalent in the north and Middle Belt of Nigeria, The government’s attempts to Islamicize the country are more widespread, affecting even Christian majority communities in the south. Christians who have converted from Islam are very vulnerable in the north of the country, particularly in those areas governed by Shariah law. Christians living as IDPs are also particularly vulnerable.  


– Pray for the Lord’s grace and comfort for believers as many are displaced, have lost loved ones and their homes, and many have also experienced trauma. Ask the Lord to be near those who have been kidnapped and pray that they will be released or rescued.

– Pray for President Muhammadu Buhari and his government. Pray that they will take decisive actions to protect all citizens in every part of the country. 

– Pray that the programs provided by Open Doors partners will strengthen the church to testify and share the gospel in very difficult circumstances. 

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    2021 World Watch List Map

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