Slain Borno farmers had no clearance to resume activities in that area, says Garba Shehu
Nigeria has "technically won the war" against Boko Haram, Buhari said in 2015
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GARBA Shehu, the spokesperson to the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has said that the slain farmers in Zabarmari, a community in Jere Local Government Area were not cleared by the military to resume operations.
Shehu said this in an interview with BBC on Monday while answering questions over the killing of about 43 farmers in Borno State.
“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 said.
Following his comment, the BBC interviewer asked if he is blaming the deceased farmers for getting killed, Garba said ‘not exactly but the truth has to be said’.
“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,” Shehu responded.
Although in March 2015, during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian Army had claimed that all but three local governments had been recovered from Boko Haram, Shehu said on Monday that the military is not present in all of that area where the attack took place.
Also in December 2015, President Buhari said Nigeria has “technically won the war” against Boko Haram militants.
He told the BBC that the militant group could no longer mount “conventional attacks” against security forces or population centres.
Five years later, the Buhari administration is now doing a 360-degree turnaround with the new claim.
“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,” Shehu said.
As at the time of filing this report, there has not been a definitive number of the casualties beheaded by Boko Haram terrorist, while the Nigerian Army said 43 bodies have been counted, the United Nations said apart from the 43, some bodies were reported to have been recovered on Sunday.