Three factors driving Nigeria’s kidnapping crisis

By February 21, 2024

Nigeria (MNN) — Two months into 2024, Nigeria is already topping the charts for Christian persecution. Dozens of believers have lost their lives, while at least 100 Christians were kidnapped during the first part of January.

Voice of the Martyrs Canada partner John Joseph Hayab describes three factors driving Nigeria’s kidnapping crisis. “One: religion. Two: money; and the third: political power,” Hayab says in a recent edition of Closer to the Fire.

Not every kidnapping qualifies as persecution, but many do. More Christians were kidnapped in Nigeria than in any other country in 2023.

“As a church leader in Kaduna state, I know the difference between attacks that are mainly to convert people to religion. I know also attacks that are for money,” Hayab says.

“What is happening in northern Nigeria today has a lot of religious ground. They (perpetrators) could kidnap other people, whether they are Christians or Muslims, and just collect money and then go; but for killing, they restrict that to Christians, especially pastors,” he continues.

“There’s a deliberate ploy to ensure that Christians suffer.”

Occasionally, believers are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. “We must differentiate those with a religious agenda from those simply looking for food,” Hayab says.

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Emboldened by the government’s lackluster response against high-profile abductions, Nigerians in need who “saw the government was not coming after them started kidnapping,” he adds.

“If it is just a bandit, [they] will pick people in their homes or on the road and collect money. They were simply kidnapping to get money because they were hungry.”

Finally, “political power is a strong tool for the advancement of Islam,” Hayab says, describing the role politics play in kidnappings.

“Before the last election, kidnappings happened [deliberately] because it was a strategy to discourage Christians from coming out to cast their vote. In areas where Christians have run away or left their home, you will see that not many people came out to vote.”

Ask God to help all Nigerians who are bereaved, injured, or traumatized by acts of terror. Pray the Lord will provide for those who have been displaced by violent attacks.



Header image depicts Nigerian children. (Photo courtesy ©EC/ECHO/Anouk Delafortrie via Flickr)

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