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Slain Borno farmers didn’t get clearance to work on rice fields: Garba Shehu

The Buhari administration appeared determined to deflect responsibility for the weekend carnage that left 110 villagers killed.

• November 30, 2020
Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu
Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu says farmers who were slaughtered on a rice field in Borno’s Zabarmari village should have obtained military clearance before resuming farming activities in the area.

Mr. Shehu who spoke to BBC ‘Newsday’ said the government was sad about the tragic incident, but added that the “people need to understand what it is like in the Lake Chad Basin area.”

He claimed that though much of the area has been liberated from Boko Haram terrorists, there are still a number of spaces that have not been cleared for the return of villagers who have been displaced.

“The truth has to be said. Was there any military clearance from the military who are in total control of the area?” Mr. Shehu queried. “Did anybody ask to resume activity?”

Mr. Shehu emphasised that he had been briefed by military authorities that the villagers did not seek military advice before exposing themselves to “a window that the terrorists have exploited.”

“So ideally, all of these places ought to probably be allowed to pass through proper military clearance before resettlement or even farmers resuming activities on those fields,” he said.

The presidency’s apparent misspeak comes barely 48 hours after Peoples Gazette reported that at least 43 rice farmers were beheaded by terrorists while working on their farms. Subsequent reports indicated that the fatalities was around 110 persons with some women also abducted by the marauders.

Mr. Shehu’s comment may be viewed as unempathetic and insensitive, even for a government that has become notorious for refusing to take responsibility for obvious failures of governance and always seeking to shift blame.

Insecurity has worsened all over the country in the last one week. Party chieftains were abducted and murdered in Nasarawa and Katsina. Kidnappers continue to cause havoc on Abuja-Kaduna Expressway, keeping the military busy in attempts to clear them off the highway.

Down South, suspected criminals bombed a Port Harcourt church belonging to the state governor’s father; while a first-class traditional ruler was murdered by suspected bandits in Ondo.

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