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President Buhari's spokesperson 'blames' farmers murdered by terrorists in Borno

The president's spokesperson says the farmers should have received security clearance before heading to the rice fields.

President Muhammadu Buhari (Left) with his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu [Twitter/@BashirAhmaad]

According to Shehu, the farmers didn’t receive security clearance before heading to the area.

On Saturday, November 28, 2020, suspected Boko Haram terrorists tied up more than 40 farmers in the village of Koshobe, near Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, slit their throats and beheaded them.

Some of the victims were labourers from Sokoto state in northwest Nigeria, who had travelled to the northeast in search of work.

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The bodies were taken to the nearby Zabarmari village where they were buried on Sunday, November 29.

Shehu told the BBC on Monday that though the military is in “full control” of all parts of Borno, the farmers and residents should have received clearance before heading to the area.

“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,” Shehu 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,” he added.

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Probed on whether he was blaming the farmers for the attacks, Shehu said: “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 added that visiting terrorist-prone areas of Borno is “a window that the terrorists have exploited."

“The military is not present on every inch of space in that area. 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,” Shehu said.

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Northeast Nigeria has been the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency since 2009.

The terrorists seek a hardline Islamic state from the region and have murdered more than 50,000 people, while displacing millions, in over a decade in the north of Nigeria.

The United Nations has described last weekend’s massacre as “the most violent attack” targeted at civilians in 2020.

The killings sparked outrage on social media, with renewed calls for President Buhari to fire his security chiefs.

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The insurgency has also worsened the food crisis in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.

President Buhari condemned the murder "of the hardworking farmers”, adding that "the entire country is hurt by these senseless killings.”

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