By Seun Adeuyi
The Presidency has stated that the 43 farmers that were killed at Kwashebe by Boko Haram insurgents in the Jere Local Government Area (LGA) on Saturday, did not have military clearance to be on the rice farms when the attack happened.
Punch had quoted AFP to have reported that Boko Haram fighters killed at least 43 farm workers and injured six in rice fields near the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Saturday.
The assailants reportedly tied up the agricultural workers and slit their throats in the village of Koshobe, according to AFP.
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Monday, Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said while not blaming the victims for the incident, the truth must be said.
According to Shehu, “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.”
He said the terrorists had planted land mines in several places in Borno State and nobody ought to go to these places until the military has cleared such places.
“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,” the President’s spokesman added.
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters, has faulted a report by the United Nations (UN) that 110 civilians were killed in the attack.
Maj. Gen. John Enenche, the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, said as of Monday morning, 43 corpses were recovered from the incident scene.
In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Edward Kallon, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, disclosed that at least 110 persons died in the horrific attack.