A federal government delegation, led by Senate President Ahmad Lawan, arrived in Maiduguri, Borno State, on Monday on a condolence visit over the killing of 43 rice farmers on Saturday by Boko Haram terrorists.
But the Presidency has said the farmers died because they did not have military clearance before going to their rice farms.
Members of the delegation include Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Ministers of Federal Capital Territory (Mohammed Bello), Communications and Digital Economy (Ali Pantami) and Minister of State for Agriculture, Mustapha Baba Shehuri.
The delegation was in Borno on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government, to commiserate with families of the victims, the Government and the people of Borno State over the incident.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said that “the government is sad that this tragic incident has happened, saying that most of the 43 or thereabout innocent farm workers had their throats slit by a heartless band of terrorists.
Shehu said “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”.
When asked if he was not blaming the farmers for going to the area, Shehu responded, “Not exactly. But 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”.
The Presidential Spokesperson added: “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”. (PANA)