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Massacred Farmers did not get clearance from Army to farm – Garba Shehu

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, has revealed that the 43 farmers who were recently slaughtered by the deadly Boko Haram terrorist group in Zabarmari, Borno state did not get clearance to access the rice farms from the Nigerian Army when the attack happened.

Mr. Shehu said this in an interview with the BBC on Monday, adding that he did not blame the dead farmers but the truth must be said.

He said the government is worried that 43 innocent farmers were slaughtered, but that the people should avoid some places that may be dangerous.

“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 the question whether he was not blaming the farmers for going to the area, Shehu said the victims should have asked for permission from the army who are in control of the area.

“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 said there are places in Borno were terrorists disturbed the most and that people should avoid such places until they are cleared by the military.

“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.”

Meanwhile, a former media aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Mir Reno Omokri has condemned the recent comments of Mr. Shehu concerning the need for prior clearance by farmers before accessing some parts of the nation’s territory.

According to a tweet on his verified twitter handle, @renoomokri, as sighted by RovingNaija, Mr. Omokri wondered: “…and this is the same government that said no inch of Nigerian territory is held by Boko Haram. Now they are saying that (certain) areas is Boko Haram zone. No matter how far and fast falsehood travels, it must eventually be overtaken by truth,” he tweeted.

Source: Daily Trust

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Olusegun Fayose

Olusegun Sunday Fayose, founder of RovingNaija.com is a Marketing Communication executive with experience in Corporate Communication, Public Relations, Branding and Advertising. He is also a seasoned media professional with roots in print, broadcast and online journalism. Segun, who last managed the Group Corporate Communication function of MultiChoice Nigeria, is upbeat that through responsible, fair, accurate and courageous reporting; and the support of readers, followers and patrons, Nigeria takes a step closer to a regime of accountability, fairness and equity in governance.

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