Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, has explained his earlier statement on the 43 murdered farmers failing to get military permission to return to their farms in Borno.
Naija News recalls that Boko Haram Terrorist group on Saturday beheaded 43 farmers in Zabarmari, less than 20 km from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Zambarmari is located in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.
The bodies of the slain farmers whose throats were slit were on Sunday morning buried in a brief ceremony led by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State.
But the United Nations stated that over 110 farmers were actually killed and not the 43 reported in the media.
Reacting in an interview with the BBC early on Monday morning, Garba Shehu said the farmers slaughtered by Boko Haram didn’t have military clearance to be on the farm.
Shehu noted that while most of the area has been liberated from the insurgents, the military needs to give clearance/approval before farmers can return to their farms or locals resettle in the area.
His statements have drawn widespread condemnation from Nigerians on social media with former Senator, Shehu Sani blasting Buhari’s aide.
Taking to his Twitter handle to clarify his statement, Garba Shehu said his statement to BBC does not mean he lacks compassion.
He stated that he did not blame the victims for the unfortunate incident, but he was only explaining the military procedure for people.
Garba Shehu wrote: “Today, I found myself leading the trends in the social media for the wrong reasons.
“The State of Borno is essentially a military zone up till now that we are talking and much of what people do; much of where they go are governed by the exigencies of security.
“Routinely, traders, administration officials and even UN agencies get the green light to go to many of the areas to avoid trouble.
“Information from security agencies says that the Zabarmari marshlands are infested with land mines and movements in around those areas subject to military oversight.
“No one is delighted with the massacre in Zabarmari and there is nothing anybody will gain by playing blame games.
“The question I tried to answer on BBC was: did the security sign off on the area as being free of mines and terrorists? The honest answer is, no.
“I’m human with tons of compassion and empathy, and could not have said that the victims deserved their fate for ignoring security clearance.
“I was merely explaining the mode of military operations in the war zone of the Northeast. There are areas that are still volatile that require security clearance which is intended to put people out of harm’s way.
“When tragedies occur, questions arise in terms of how something happened in order to avoid future recurrence. Informing the military of our movements in an area of volatility and uncertainty is intended to preserve public safety.
“Explaining why something happened doesn’t mean I have no sympathy for the victims. I was just explaining the military procedures on the safe movement of the people and not supporting the death of the victims.”
Source: Naija News