Massacres in Nigeria: Indecent Remarks by the Irish President

June 27, 2022
Michael D. Higgins

The Irish head of state aroused the indignation of the local Church in Nigeria by attributing the primary responsibility for the massacres of Catholics perpetrated by jihadist commandos to climate change.

Nigerian Catholics will long remember June 5, 2022: on this Sunday, when the universal Church was celebrating Pentecost, jihadist commandos targeted the Church of St. Francis Xavier in Owo, Ondo State, causing the deaths of about fifty faithful.

A bloody toll that adds to the some 4,650 Christians who lost their lives violently last year, and to the 900 others during the first quarter of 2022.

But what may change with the Owo massacre is the enterprise of latent relativization of the Islamist character of the aggression perpetrated on June 5. Thus, the Irish president, in a message of condolence sent to Nigerian Catholics, to whom the Island of the Saints is historically very close, invoked the climate as being truly responsible for the butchery, and he is not the only one.

Michael D. Higgins thus saw fit to warn “against any attempt to make scapegoats of the Fulani herders, because they are the first victims of climate change.”

Stunning words that made Msgr. Jude Arogundade, Bishop of Ondo, the diocese in whose territory the killing was perpetrated protest with indignation. “Establishing a fallacious link between the victims of terrorism and the consequences of climate change is not only a rude error, but amounts to rubbing salt in the wounds of the victims of terrorism in Nigeria,” reacted the prelate.

To reestablish the truth and understand what is at stake, it should be remembered that the Fulani ethnic group – made up of nomadic herders – is one of the main breeding grounds for jihadism in the Sahel.

They are of the Muslim religion, in their vast majority - in some countries almost all of them - and have played an important historical role in the penetration of Islam into West Africa, at the expense of other populations, especially Christians.

For several decades, the Fulani’s situation has deteriorated, They claim to be left behind by development policies, believe that they are victims of discrimination on the part of the authorities, frequently experiencing the feeling of living in a hostile environment, given that the sedentary populations make their nomadism more and more precarious.

This is a windfall for the radical Islamists who did not have to do much to convince these Muslim populations to follow them in horror. As we can see, the facts are stubborn and invalidate the uninspired analysis of the Irish head of state.

The Bishop of Ondo, for his part, is determined to restore the truth, and he affirms that “comments associating banditry, kidnappings, and gruesome attacks against innocent citizens with climate change issues are distortions of the truth.”

This is a way of also providing a scathing denial to the Americans who, a few months ago already, removed Nigeria from the blacklist of countries where Islamist terrorism is rife.