Transforming The 10/40 Window Nations Through The Power of Prayer

Nigeria, West Africa

Population: 138,283,240
Political Leader: President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua
Religions: Christianity 52.6%, Islam 41%, Traditional 6%, Other 0.4%
Persecution Ranking: 32 (North)
Number of Terrorist Groups: 5
Acts of Terrorism: 38; Casualties: 13
Percent of Corruption: 78%
% of People in Poverty: 70%

Nigeria, officially named the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa and the most populous country in Africa. Nigeria shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast lies on the Gulf of Guinea, part of the Atlantic Ocean, in the south. Since 1991, its capital has been the centrally located city of Abuja; previously, the Nigerian government was headquartered in the coastal city, Lagos.

The apprehensions and trials of extremists by the Nigerian government seemed to indicate not just recognition of potential threats to itself and its citizens, but a responsiveness and willingness to act to protect American interests, including facilities and personnel, according to Country Reports on Terrorism 2007. These arrests also suggested some degree of cooperation and facilitation among extremist groups in the Sahel, which were made possible by porous borders with minimal controls, and the logistical difficulties inherent in patrolling the Sahara desert.

Since 2005, the Nigerian Taliban (which has no connection to the Taliban of Afghanistan) has been suspected of having connections to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali and Al Qaeda affiliates. To date, no conclusive links have been definitively proven, although Osama bin Ladin went on record in 2003 saying that Nigeria was fertile ground for action.

In December 2006, Mohammed Yusuf, a Maiduguri-based imam and alleged "Nigerian Taliban" leader was charged with five counts of illegally receiving foreign currency. His trial was still ongoing at the end of 2007. Also in December 2006, Mohammed Ashafa of Kano was charged with receiving funds in 2004 from two Al Qaeda operatives based in Lahore, Pakistan to "identify and carry out terrorist attacks" on American residences in Nigeria.

On January 16, 2007, Mohammed Bello Ilyas Damagun, a Nigerian cleric described by prosecutors as a primary sponsor of the Nigerian Taliban, was arraigned on three counts of terrorism. Damagun was accused of receiving the sum of $300,000 from Sudanese extremists or an Al Qaeda affiliate in Sudan “with the intent that said money shall be used in the execution of acts of terrorism.”

On July 27, 2007, the government of Nigeria introduced e-passports containing a data chip, which will allow for easier passport authentication and fraudulent documentation detection. Besides enhanced security, the system will provide the country's first electronic database of biometric information.

In September 2005, a draft antiterrorism bill was approved by the Nigerian cabinet and sent to the National Assembly. The bill provided for sentences of up to 35 years for those convicted of a terrorist offense. Membership in a banned organization carried lighter jail sentences that could be replaced by a fine. The bill was withdrawn, however, the day of its second reading in the Senate due to opposition from northern senators who argued that the motivation for such a bill was anti-Muslim sentiment.

Christians comprise 52.6% of Ethiopia’s population, while Muslims make up 41%. There is a wide cultural difference between the Muslim north and largely Christian south. These differences have created tensions, which have escalated into violence and civil war.

Challenges for Christians:
Nigeria is ranked No. 32 among nations that are the worst persecutors of Christians based on Open Doors 2008 World Watch List. In many of the northern Muslim states, a strict Islamic Shari’a law was imposed in 2000 and Christians there face intense persecution.

Around 1,000 people were displaced, several critically wounded, and every church reportedly destroyed in Shira Yana, Bauchi State, Nigeria on February 2, 2008, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). This is the latest in a series of recent incidents of religious violence in northern and central Shari’ah states.

The violence erupted after a young woman was accused of blaspheming against the prophet Mohammed. According to local sources, the young woman had spurned the advances of a young Muslim man on the previous day. In a last effort the man appealed to her to speak to him “in the name of the Messenger,” to which she responded that she knew no messenger.

Elsewhere, a Baptist church and a Deeper Life church were set ablaze in the Angwan Pama area of Shendam in predominantly Christian Plateau State on January 31, 2008.  A car owned by a local Christian that was parked close to the churches was also destroyed in the blaze. On February 1, 2008, six Christian-owned houses were razed to the ground in Mavo, in the Wase Local Government Area of southern Plateau State.

CSW Advocacy Director Tina Lambert said: “This recent wave of violence in central and northern Nigeria is disturbing, and we can only hope it does not indicate an upsurge in religious violence during 2008.”

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for God to disrupt the plans of terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Nigerian Taliban, as they try to operate and recruit in Nigeria.
  • Pray for the Nigerian government to continue to not support international terrorism or terrorists.
  • Thank God that more persecution has meant more prayer. Nigerian Christians are passionate about praying―some of the biggest prayer meetings in history have been in Nigeria. As many as 3 million people have come together to pray in the city of Lagos;  that many people would fill 50 football stadiums.
  • Pray for peace, reconciliation and healing between people from the north and south of Nigeria. Pray that the introduction of the Islamic Shari’a law would not present a threat to the future unity of the nation.
  • The Church in Nigeria has grown quickly and rapidly. Pray that this widespread evangelism would be followed by Bible-based discipleship and teaching to help people follow Jesus in their lives.
  • The age-gap between older and younger Christian leaders is large, and many show unwillingness to train-up and disciple young people into leadership. Pray that God would raise up leaders who have a humble spirit and a desire to mentor others.
  • Persecution in Nigeria’s northern states has led to the death of thousands of Christians and the destruction of church buildings. Pray that God would comfort all who have lost their families and suffered. Pray also that the spirit of forgiveness would be stronger than any feelings of revenge.

Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, CIA Factbook, Wikipedia, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007

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