The Islamist Boko Haram group have claimed responsibility for several attacks in areas of north-eastern Nigeria which have so far killed 29 people and have resulted in hundreds of others fleeing their communities.
The violence, which is seemingly targeting Christian communities, has been largely unabated since Christmas Day, and has prompted the state governor to impose a curfew.
Last week President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Yobe and Borno states, as well as Plateau state in central Nigeria and Niger state in the west, following a surge in ethnic and sectarian violence.
More than 500 people have been killed by the group over the past year.
President Jonathan, who is a Christian, has vowed to crack down on the group but Christian groups have accused him of not doing enough to protect them.
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said his members would protect themselves against the attacks.
“We have the legitimate right to defend ourselves. We”re also saying today that we will do whatever it takes” he said.
The pattern of the killings suggested “systematic ethnic and religious cleansing”, he added.
The pastor declined to be specific about how Christians would defend themselves, raising fears of retaliation and an escalation of the violence.
The Muslim terrorist group has staged numerous attacks in northern and central areas in recent months – on Christmas Day it attacked a church near the capital, Abuja, killing dozens of people.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden”, is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.
Watch this clip from CNN as journalist Vladimir Duthiers reports from Lagos, Nigeria