Under fire over the massacre of rice farmers in Borno State, the Nigerian Army has placed the blame for the mass killing on villagers.
The military’s blame game came after the presidency blamed the slained rice farmers for going to farm without military clearance.
John Enenche, coordinator of defence media operations, says some residents of Borno sabotage the efforts of the military by providing information on its movement and activities to Boko Haram.
Enenche said this on Monday while answering questions on the killing of 45 farmers at Zabarmari in Jere local government area of Borno state by the insurgents when he featured on Sunrise Daily, a programme on Channels TV.
Asked how the military had no prior intelligence on the attack, Enenche said the army needs information from locals to aid its operation.
“That has been our worry,” Enenche said.
“It’s a concern to us. You need a guide, you need information. Will they tell us? That’s a question that we have to ask. Yes, sometimes. And most times, no.
“And that was one of the issues we have been ensuring to overcome, with civil-military cooperation activities, reaching out to them, even sending people by proxy to talk to them.
“Those are the things that have been one of the banes of the final success in the whole of this operation.
“Our patrols will pass through a route, in a village. By the time you are going, some people are looking at you. When you are coming back, the next thing is that you meet an IED planted on the road. And people saw them, they won’t tell you. So that’s the area I think we are all working together as stakeholders.
“And it is not possible to force information out of people. It’s not possible, just like they say you force a horse to the river, but not to drink water. So all we are trying to do is to build up their confidence in the system and encourage them that look, this is not good for you.
“Now, they do not expect that this will happen, even those ones that they deceived, that they are preaching to them.”
On the actual number of casualties from the attack, Enenche said contrary to the UN’s statement that at least 110 people were killed, the military has so far identified 43 corpses.
According to him, the field commandants “gave me a synopsis of what happened. When the governor was to go and after they had recovered the dead, the troops had to move in there and they counted 43.
“Probably we may count up to the figure he (Kallon) gave in the future but as it is now, what we have counted with the locals is still 43 and we are hoping that we don’t get beyond that.
“This is the real situation. I did not sleep, we had to follow it because this is very relevant coming from the United Nations.”