By Funmi Ogundare
The Presidency has said that the 43 rice farmers killed in Borno over the weekend did not get military clearance before going to their farms.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, told BBC on Monday that the farmers should have waited for military clearance before proceeding to the farms.
He explained that though the military was in full control of all parts of Borno, the farmers and residents ought to get clearance before visiting certain areas.
No fewer than 43 rice farmers were killed by Boko Haram in Zabarmari, about 20 kilometres from Maiduguri, at the weekend.
The attack was described by the United Nations as “the most violent attack” targeted at civilians in 2020.
Shehu, however, said the farmers shouldn’t have gone to the farms without clearance.
According to him: “People need to understand what it is like in the Lake Chad 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.
“Ideally, all of these places ought to probably be allowed to pass the test of military clearance before settlers or even farmers resume activities on those fields.”
When the BBC clarified if he was blaming the farmers for the attack, Shehu said: “Not exactly, but the truth has to be said. Is there any clearance by the military which is in total control of those areas? Did anybody ask to resume activities? I have been told by the military leaders that they have not been so advised.”