Mallam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity has disclosed that the farmers slaughtered by Boko Haram terrorists on Saturday didn’t have military clearance to be on the farm.
This he stated on Monday during an interview with the BBC where he spoke about the unfortunate incident in which terrorists on Saturday, mercilessly killed not less than 43 farmers in the Zabarmari area of Borno State, about 20km away from Maiduguri the state capital.
Shehu in a reaction to the sad incident 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.
He however noted that the farmers killed on Saturday didn’t have military clearance to be on the farms.
Asked if it was not a case of blaming the farmers for their own death, the presidential spokesperson said the victims are not been blamed but the truth must be said.
In his words, “The government is sad that this tragic incident has happened. 43 or thereabout of innocent farm workers, most of them had their throats slit by a heartless band of terrorists. People need to know what it is like in the Lake Chad Basin area.
“Much of those areas have been liberated from Boko Haram terrorists but there are a number of spaces that have not been cleared for the return of villagers who have been displaced. So, ideally, all of these places ought to pass the test of military clearances before farmers or settlers resume activities on those fields.”
Responding to a question on whether his submission was not a blame on the victims for their own death, Shehu responded, “Not exactly but the truth has to be said. Was there any clearance by the military which is in total control of those areas? Did anybody ask to resume activity? I have been told by the military leaders that they had not been so advised and certainly, therefore, it was a window that the terrorists exploited.”
He added that before the people can return to such places, lots of military clearance needs to be done to make it habitable again for civilians.
“The military is not present in every inch of space in that area. Even if the people are willing to go back, a lot of those areas have been mined and mine clearance needs to be carried out and those areas must be cast as being ok for human habitation or agricultural activity,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nigerians have renewed their calls for President Buhari to sack the current service chiefs and bring in fresh hands to tackle the growing insecurity in the country.
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