The Nigerian government has subtly blamed the slaughtering of over 100 farmers by suspected Boko Haram terrorists on the farmers failure to carry out due diligence and not obtaining a military clearance before commencing work on their farms.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Monday that though the military is in “full control” of all parts of Borno, the farmers and residents ought to get clearance before visiting certain areas.
Terrorists had attacked Zabarmari, about 20 kilometres from Maiduguri, at the weekend, slitting the throats of at least 45 farmers.
The attack was described by the United Nations as “the most violent attack” targeted at civilians in 2020.
“People need to understand what it is like in the Lake Chad region, 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,” Shehu told the BBC.
When asked if he was not blaming the farmers for going to the area, 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 said visiting certain places in the north-east, which has come under the weight of Boko Haram insurgency for more than 10 years, is “a window that the terrorists have exploited”.
“The military is not present on every inch of space in that area and even if the people are ready to go back, some of these areas have been mined and mine clearance has to be carried out first.”
By Abel Ejikeme