A video purportedly released by Joe Igbokwe “a chieftain of the APC in Lagos” is currently in circulation on social media. Also, a writeup with the title above was recently added to this video on Opera News. This falsifies the background of the video and makes it look current, because the discussion was in March 2019. Given the sensitive nature of the issues under discussion, it is necessary to make some clarifications to correct the manipulations presented in the writeup and to forestall any wrong interpretation of the views expressed in the video by His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze.
1. It is not an interview: The whole video was a secret registration by a Nigerian who approached the Cardinal for a brief discussion after a Mass in one monastery in Italy in 2019. His Eminence had no idea that the informal and private discussion was being registered.
2. The main idea in the video: The main point of the discussion was that the man said that the Pope should support Biafra, to which Cardinal Arinze responded that it is not the role of the Pope or the Bishops to preach about Biafra. It is the lay people like the interlocutor who should work in the political arena in Nigeria to decide with other politicians on the political structure of Nigeria.
3. On war: His Eminence cautioned in the video that war is very destructive and not a lasting solution to political arrangements.
4. The current situation of the country: While His Eminence is deeply concerned like every one else regarding the current situation of Nigeria, he was not addressing the situation of the moment in that discussion, which took place on the 16th of March 2019.
5. On IPOB and ESN: His Eminence did not comment on these groups or on similar issues that he regarded as beyond his competence. Besides, that private discussion predates the ESN.
Therefore, such a secret recording of a private and informal discussion is a total breach of trust, to say the least, and a grave injustice to His Eminence. Similarly, the recent writeup accompanying the video is a self-serving falsification of what transpired between the two speakers, which is capable of public deception. While there is no intention to seek a formal redress of these injustices, Cardinal Arinze encourages all Nigerians to use the social media responsibly, and to pray and work for reconciliation, justice and peace.
FR. ANTHONY EZEUGO