. Nigerian Army disputes UN’s 110 fatality figure, insists only 43 killed
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu,
says farmers killed in Borno State at the weekend did not get military clearance before visiting their farms, a statement that has attracted serious rage and criticism from some Nigerians to him.
Shehu told the 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.
Suspected Boko Haram members attacked Zabarmari, about 20 kilometres from Maiduguri, at the weekend, killing at least 43 farmers.
The attack was described by the United Nations as “the most violent attack” targeted at civilians in 2020.
Shehu, however, blamed the farmers whom he said failed to do due diligence by first obtaining clearance before visiting their farms.
“People need to understand what it is like in the Lake Chad area. Much of those areas have been liberated by Boko Haram terrorists but there are a number of spaces that have not been cleared for the return of villagers who have been displaced,” he said.
“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.”
Asked by the BBC if he is blaming the farmers on the attack, he responded: “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.”
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,” he said, adding: “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.”
Meanwhile, the military have disputed claims by the United Nations that 110 and not 43 were the number of farmers killed.
The military insisted that those killed were 43.
Meanwhile, Nigerians have taken to social media to express dissatisfaction at the statement credited to Mr. Shehu.
Obed Etobe wrote:
For how long will Nigerians, nay northern Nigerians, tolerate this arrogant ineptitude? One minute you tell us no inch of the northeast is under boko haram control, the next you tell us we have to obtain clearance to go to our farms. Is this tolerance of failure of witchcraft origin?
Hon Dino added:
But they keep telling everyone that no part of the North is under the control of boko haram yet one needs clearance from the military before going to farm?what kind of liers are occupying the seat of power in this country.
Martins Offiong wrote:
Trying to defend the failure of this government makes you sound stupid. Imagine a citizen getting clearance from the military to go about his normal day to day activities? How does it sound?
Ademola Bolanle Adetipe
I am in total agreement with people who said we are being ruled by clueless leaders, who have no value for lifes, there must be voice that will remove them from power, they should be reminded that Abasha was removed without any force, the same God still rules it the affairs of Nigeria.