In states across Nigeria, about 5 million Christians turned out on the streets on Feb. 2 to march, pray, sing worship songs, and hold banners saying, “All souls are precious to God” and “We demand justice for this genocide.”
The participants responded to a call from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to stage the “prayer walk” in response to radical Islamic murders of Christians.
In central Nigeria, Islamic herdsmen are attacking and looting Christian villages. They killed 13 Christians in the village of Kulben on Jan. 8. The next day, insurgents kidnapped Ropvil Daciya Dalep, a 22-year old Christian, on his way back to Borno state after Christmas break. The Islamic State West African Province, an offshoot of the Islamic terror group Boko Haram, released a video on Jan. 22 of Dalep’s execution.
On Feb. 1, church officials confirmed the death of 18-year-old Michael Nnadi, whom armed abductors took from a Catholic seminary in northern Nigeria. Bishop Matthew Kukah called his death a “solemn moment for the body of Christ.” Kukah condemned the government’s nepotism and clannishness while calling on Christians to “become more robust in presenting the values of Christianity, especially our message of love and nonviolence to a violent society.”
An attack on Feb. 11 led to the deaths at least 30 people outside of Auno village in Borno state, the center of Boko Haram’s 2014 Islamist terror insurgency. Security officials had closed the main road into the village, and terrorists attacked as people waited overnight in their cars for the gates to reopen.
Similar attacks have occurred throughout the region. On Friday, gunmen killed at least 21 people in the village of Ogossagou in central Mali. A similar attack in March last year killed more than 150 people in the same village. In a three-hour December assault on an army camp in western Niger, about 70 soldiers died.
Amid the unrest, the United States said in a quarterly report it has downgraded its counterterrorism assistance in the Sahel, the arid region between the Sahara Desert and equatorial Africa. Security experts warn that a possible U.S. military cut in Africa to focus on Russia and China could hurt counterterrorism efforts on the continent.