Did you know that in the last year more Christians have been killed for their faith in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world combined? In 2021, at least 6,000 Christians died for their faith, and 80 per cent of those were Nigerians. Their murderers were – you may not be too shocked to learn – almost to a man Islamists. But, this being Nigeria, a supposedly secular state where northern provinces impose Sharia on their populations, the situation is chaotic.
Four different groups are implicated. They are: the notorious Boko Haram; the so-called 'Islamic State in West African Province'; armed bandits; and an ethnic group of Fulani militants, often described in the media as herders – which they traditionally are, but these days they seem to more interested in slaughtering Christians than in their livestock.
To quote the Christian charity Open Doors
, 'killing Christian men is a key strategy for these groups because it destroys livelihoods, with men tending to be the family's main breadwinner, and depopulates Christian communities.'
The violence employed by the Fulani herdsman in particular is so grotesque that I won't describe it in detail, but if I tell you that their targets include pregnant women and specifically their unborn children that will give you some idea of the apocalyptic horror involved.
My guest on Holy Smoke today is a remarkable man: Pastor Ayo Adedoyin, based at Jesus House in London. He's also chief executive officer of an international development and human rights charity, PSJ UK, which tries to mobilise Africans in the UK into a cohesive voice on this subject.
It's an urgent task. We're talking about a genocidal campaign that Ayo compares to the blood-soaked slaughter in the streets of Ukraine – but for years it hasn't attracted anything like the publicity it deserves. And the reason for that is that the international media and also international politicians don't seem particularly interested in the religious dimension of this conflict.
The British Foreign Office – despite various promises – hasn't really responded to repeated calls to make it a higher priority. The Trump administration made some attempt, but a US administration led by a supposed Catholic, Joe Biden, has fallen quiet. Do please listen to what Pastor Ayo has to say.