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Why I blamed slain Borno farmers for not getting military clearance: Garba Shehu

The presidential spokesman was a subject of biting criticism after appearing to blame 110 farmers killed by Boko Haram.

• November 30, 2020
Garba Shehu
Garba Shehu (Credit: Facebook)

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu has responded to online media backlash following his comments on the massacre of 110 farmers working on a rice field in Zabarmari village, Borno.

Mr. Shehu said though he was not happy with the killing, he was merely explaining existing security measures in an area that has been subjected to military occupation for long.

“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,” Mr. Shehu said on Twitter. “There are areas that are still volatile that require security clearance which is intended to put people out of harm’s way.”

Mr. Shehu insisted it had long been a standard practice for aid workers, traders, administration officials and even UN agencies to routinely “get the green light to go to many of the areas to avoid trouble.”

“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,” he added.

Mr. Shehu had in an interview with the BBC on Monday said the slain farmers did not obtain clearance before moving back to their farms.

The entire Buhari administration has faced criticism for doing little to check worsening insecurity across the country — which frequently leaves hundreds robbed or killed by marauding kidnappers, bandits and Boko Haram insurgents.

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