The scores of Nigerian farmers who were slaughtered by suspected Boko Haram terrorists have no other person to blame but themselves, a presidency spokesperson has suggested.
At least 110 people were killed with many others kidnapped, the United Nations and villagers said on Sunday. Villagers also said they alerted the Nigerian Army before the attack but got no help.
But the rice farmers, who were massacred on a rice field in Borno’s Zabarmari village, should have obtained military clearance before resuming farming activities in the area, Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson Garba Shehu told the BBC.
Shehu said the Buhari government was sad about the tragic incident but added that the “people need to understand what it is like in the Lake Chad Basin area.”
He claimed that though much of the area has been liberated from Boko Haram terrorists, there are still a number of spaces that have not been cleared for the return of villagers who have been displaced.
“The truth has to be said,” Shehu said.
“Was there any military clearance from the military who are in total control of the area? Did anybody ask to resume activity?”
Shehu emphasised that he had been briefed by military authorities that the villagers did not seek military advice before exposing themselves to “a window that the terrorists have exploited.”
“So ideally, all of these places ought to probably be allowed to pass through proper military clearance before resettlement or even farmers resuming activities on those fields,” Shehu said.
Shehu’s blame-shifting comment echoed that of his boss, Buhari, who essentially asked Nigerians to hold the military responsible for the mass murder.
In the wave of the killing, Buhari, who is Nigeria’s commander-in-chief, said he had given the military leaders everything they needed to keep the country safe.