Nigeria

Boko Haram: Garba Shehu reacts to backlash over comments on slain Zabarmari farmers

President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Monday reacted to the backlash he received over his comment on Boko Haram’s killing of rice farmers in Borno State.

Shehu had said the murdered farmers never got clearance from the military to go out farming.

Speaking with BBC Hausa, Garba had said although he was not blaming the victims for the incident, the truth must be said.

Reacting to the backlash, the president’s spokesman explained that his remark was based on military intelligence report on the area the incident occurred.

In a series of tweets, Shehu disclosed that military reports had it that “Zabarmari marshlands are infested with land mines and movement in around those areas is subject to military oversight.”

According to Shehu: “Today, I found myself leading the trends in the social media for the wrong reasons.

“The State of Borno is essentially a military zone up till now that we are talking and much of what people do; much of where they go are governed by the exigencies of security.

“Routinely, traders, administration officials and even UN agencies get the green light to go to many of the areas to avoid trouble.

“Information from security agencies says that the Zabarmari marshlands are infested with land mines and movements in around those areas subject to military oversight.

“No one is delighted with the massacre in Zabarmari and there is nothing anybody will gain by playing blame games.

“The question I tried to answer on BBC was: did the security sign off on the area as being free of mines and terrorists? The honest answer is, no.

“I’m human with tons of compassion and empathy, and could not have said that the victims deserved their fate for ignoring security clearance.

“I was merely explaining the mode of military operations in the war zone of the Northeast. There are areas that are still volatile that require security clearance which is intended to put people out of harm’s way.

“When tragedies occur, questions arise in terms of how something happened in order to avoid future recurrence. Informing the military of our movements in an area of volatility and uncertainty is intended to preserve public safety.

“Explaining why something happened doesn’t mean I have no sympathy for the victims. I was just explaining the military procedures on the safe movement of the people and not supporting the death of the victims.”

Football news:

Frank Lampard: Back in December, Chelsea were in great shape. I am concerned that we lost it so quickly
Rodgers on Leicester's fight for the championship: It's too early to say, but in the first half of the season we played consistently and at a high level
Only in one season in the Abramovich era did Chelsea score fewer points after 19 rounds than they do now. Then Mourinho was sacked after 16 games
Werner has not scored in 11 games in the Premier League. He has 1 goal in his last 15 games for Chelsea
Manchester United are ready to offer 12 million euros for defender Lance Medina. In September, he was called up to the Argentina national team for the first time
Player Eibar Enric and defender Girona Luna were sentenced to 2 years in prison on probation for publishing a video of a threesome
Bayern will play Egypt's Al-Ahly or Qatar's Al-Duhail in the Club World Cup semi-finals