AFRICA/NIGERIA - Bishop of Ondo: "Climate change has nothing to do with the massacre in the church of Owo"

Monday, 13 June 2022 climate changes   persecutions   bishops   violence  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "To suggest or make a connection between victims of terror and consequences of climate change is not only misleading but also exactly rubbing salt in the injuries of all who have suffered terrorism in Nigeria", says His Exc. Msgr. Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, Bishop of Ondo, the diocese to which the church of St. Francis Xavier of Owo belongs, where a massacre of the faithful was committed on Sunday, June 5 (see Fides, 6/6/2022).
Msgr. Arogundade replies to the President of the Republic of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, who in his message of condolence for the massacre had warned against "any attempt to scapegoat pastoral peoples who are among the foremost victims of the consequences of climate change". Gangs of Fulani shepherds, crossing the country in search of grazing land and water for their herds, have been consistently blamed for armed raids in Nigeria, mostly targeting settled farming communities. The Owo church massacre was also initially attributed to a commando of Fulani shepherds, but authorities have now blamed the Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) Province, a wing of Boko Haram, for the massacre.
In his statement Msgr. Arogundade described it as "incorrect and far-fetched" to attribute a role to the consequences of climate change in the Owo massacre and that "alluding to some form of politics of climate change in our situation is completely inappropriate".
Throughout Nigeria there is a "profound fear in every part of the country and such a situation has nothing to do with ideology", continues the Bishop of Ondo who appeals to "those who are trying to take advantage of this horrific event to project any form of ideological agenda, to desist from such opportunism" Recalling the historical connection between the Republic of Ireland and the diocese of Ondo, Msgr. Arogundade considers the comments of the President of Ireland to be important. "The first two Bishops of the diocese of Ondo were Irish, the church building in which the attack took place was built by Irish missionaries" and some of the people killed had received the sacraments from "venerable Irish missionaries. Irish men and women laid the foundation of the faith for us in this part of the world", says the Bishop.
"Comments associating banditry, kidnapping and gruesome attacks on innocent and harmless citizens of Nigeria with issues concerning climate change and food securities are deflections from the truth" concludes the Bishop, attributing to politics the deterioration of security conditions in the country. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 13/6/2022)