On Feb. 27, U.S Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback told CNA that the situation in Nigeria was deteriorating.
"There's a lot of people getting killed in Nigeria, and we're afraid it is going to spread a great deal in that region," he told CNA. "It is one that's really popped up on my radar screens -- in the last couple of years, but particularly this past year."
"I think we've got to prod the [Nigerian President Muhammadu] Buhari government more. They can do more," he said. "They're not bringing these people to justice that are killing religious adherents. They don't seem to have the sense of urgency to act."
On Ash Wednesday, last week, Catholics in the country were invited to wear black to highlight the ongoing violence against Chrisitans.
In a letter read in all the country's parishes on Feb. 26, Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze of Benin City, head of the country's bishops' conference, said that the black clothing would be a show of solidarity with victims of violent crime, as well as a display of mourning for victims of religious violence.
Also last week, the secretary general of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria issued a request for Catholics around the world to pray for peace in Nigeria and security for the nation's Christians.
"I have been directed by the administrative board of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) to communicate to you that in the face of the current security situation, the Church needs to speak out in word and action against the level of insecurity in the country," said Fr. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi on Feb. 25 to Nigerian press.
Samjumi said that Nigerians throughout the country live in a constant state of fear, and there is a ever-present state of insecurity. Christians are subjected to "repeated barbaric executions" and "incessant cases of kidnapping for ransom" by the Islamist group Boko Haram, and other terrorist organizations, he said.
The violence has "traumatized many citizens," Samjumi concluded.
ACI Africa, CNA's African news partner, contributed to the reporting of this story.