Mallam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, says the 43 rice farmers killed by Boko Haram insurgents on Saturday, November 28, did not have the clearance of the military to go to their farms when they were attacked and murdered.
In an interview with the BBC on Monday, November 30, Shehu said although he did not blame the victims for going to their farms, the “truth must be told that they were not supposed to be on their farm because they did not get permission from the Nigerian Army.”
“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,” Shehu said.
“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.
“I am not exactly blaming the farmers 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 them 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.”