The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) declared a national day of prayer on 10 January in the run up to the presidential election, set to be held on 16 February 2019, amid a recent spate of attacks by Islamic militants.
Christian leaders called for a “free, fair and credible election” that is “violence-free and without any bloodshed” when the country votes next month. The CAN statement also asked Christians to pray for freedom for Nigerians held captive by Islamist terrorists, including the mainly Christian “Chibok girls” kidnapped in April 2014, and teenager Leah Sharibu, held captive by Boko Haram since 19 February 2018 for refusing to denounce her Christian faith.
The day of prayer was called as Boko Haram-linked militants launched a series of renewed attacks in north-east Nigeria in late December. Families have again fled the isolated fishing town of Baga, where hundreds of Christians were slaughtered for their faith when it was previously overrun by Boko Haram in 2015. A Christian community in Numan Local Government area was also reportedly attacked by gunmen who burned down many houses and a seminary on 19 January.
Local reports say that Baga and its nearby government military base were seized in December 2018 by jihadist militants. But military sources stated that they have made a “tactical withdrawal”. An army chief said, “We are having a ding-dong situation in Baga right now. We are not in full control, but Boko Haram have not taken control either.”