Residents of Zabarmari, Borno State have lambasted Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, over his comments on the killing of 43 rice farmers.
Naija News recalls that Boko Haram Terrorist group on Saturday beheaded 43 farmers in Zabarmari, less than 20 km from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Zambarmari is located in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.
The bodies of the slain farmers whose throats were slit were on Sunday morning buried in a brief ceremony led by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State.
But the United Nations stated that over 110 farmers were actually killed and not the 43 reported in the media.
Reacting in an interview with the BBC early on Monday morning, Garba Shehu said the farmers slaughtered by Boko Haram didn’t have military clearance to be on the farm.
Shehu noted that while most of the area has been liberated from the insurgents, the military needs to give clearance/approval before farmers can return to their farms or locals resettle in the area.
His statements have drawn widespread condemnation from Nigerians on social media with former Senator, Shehu Sani blasting Buhari’s aide.
Following the backlash, Garba Shehu later stated that his comments were only in reaction to the question he was asked by the BBC.
But Mallam Hassan, a former Chairman of the Rice Farmers Association in Zabarmari, stated that they have never taken permission from the military before going to their farm.
According to Daily Trust, Hassan said it was rather unfortunate that an aide to President Buhari should make such comments.
“The dead deserve respect; Malam Shehu should have reserved his comments because of the tense situation,” he said.
“We have never collected any clearances from the military or any security operatives. We have been farming in these areas since when I was a child; these places are not far from Maiduguri.
“We have never been exempted from farming. We planted our seedlings during the rainy season and took care of the fields up till this moment without taking any permission from anyone.”