A presidential spokesman, Mr. Garba Shehu, has reiterated the pain of the presidency at the gory slaughter of over 50 farmers, but suggests that farmers were to blame for been at the wrong place at the wrong time.
On a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) interview on Monday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said: “…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.”
Earlier, he said, “The government is sad that this tragic incident has happened. 43 or thereabout of innocent farm workers, most of them had their throats slit by a heartless band of terrorists. People need to know what it is like in the Lake Chad Basin 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. So, ideally, all of these places ought to pass the test of military clearances before farmers or settlers resume activities on those fields.”
“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.”
A farmer who escaped the Borno attack, Nasiru Usman, said the attackers also abducted seven farmers. Usman said trouble started after some farmers apprehended a Boko Haram insurgent who approached them with request for food.
“Unknowingly, he was accompanied by dozens of other militants who were hiding around the bush. So immediately they tied him and seized his guns, his other colleagues quickly stormed the scene, and opened fire on the farmers, while they took to their heels. At exactly 11am, the group declared a blanket killing against all the farmers harvesting their products.
“They began by abducting seven, then went on rampage and began killing every one in sight. So far, we have recovered up to 45 bodies. Our civilian JTF, police and Military are still searching for more bodies. We won’t know how many are missing so far for now since more bodies are still being found,” he said.
According to AFP, the victims were mostly labourers from Sokoto state in northwest Nigeria, who were contracted to harvest paddy in the rice fields.
Meanwhile, the United Nations on Sunday denounced the gruesome killing of over 110 innocent farmers in the Koshobe village of Borno State’s Mafa Local Government Area in northeastern Nigeria.
Mr Edward Kallon, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, speaking for the United Nations, says he is outraged and appalled by the horrific assault on civilians carried out by non-state armed groups in villages near Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
The entire UN system and the humanitarian community working to provide life-saving and development assistance to the most vulnerable in the state of Borno, he said were appalled by the incident.
Such direct attacks on innocent citizens, he said, jeopardize the ability of the most marginalized people to survive the adversity that they face and that the United Nations is seeking to mitigate.
He noted that rural communities are facing untold difficulties in the state of Borno.
The humanitarian coordinator said there is a need for government and all humanitarian actors to do their utmost to support victims of crises, most of whom are poor, to survive the challenges they face, especially at a time when food insecurity is high in the state of Borno.