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Catholic media are widely reporting violence against Nigerian priests and parishioners. The U.S. government is also concerned with religious freedom in the West African country.
Church Militant's Kristine Christlieb sorts out testimony from on-the-ground experts.
Abp. Matthew Ndagoso, archdiocese of Kaduna: "Nigerians are at the brink of losing hope. People see no reason why they should live now given what is happening in our country."
After a hearing on Wednesday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is recommending the State Department designate Nigeria a "country of particular concern" and that a special envoy be appointed to Africa's most populous nation.
The federal agency sent a delegation to Nigeria in July to collect information and testimony.
Witnesses and other experts told the delegation that Nigeria is a country with no national identity, sliding into dysfunction.
As of August, 22 Catholic priests have been kidnapped so far this year. Catholics and other Christians are most at risk in the north, where Islam is dominant.
But the threat isn't always from Muslim extremist organizations like Boko Haram. There are tens of thousands of lawless and power-hungry Muslim bandits terrorizing the country's northwest quadrant.
Hudson Institute research fellow James Barnett explained the dynamic: "Nigeria's bandits are mostly motivated by a combination of personal ambitions and grievances stemming from interethnic conflict and, in contrast to jihadists, do not generally target civilians on the basis of religion."
One expert acknowledged there are real religious atrocities in Nigeria but said corrupt politicians use religion as a tool to promote their agendas.
Nigerian analysts also warned of increased religious violence in the months prior to the February 2023 elections.