Garba Shehu, EFCC, NDDC, NSITF
Garba Shehu

By Nwafor Sunday

Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, has come out to defend his statement where he said that the 43 slain farmers did not get military clearance before farming on the area.

Hours after he spoke with BBC, Shehu began to trend online; his statement went viral with many Nigerians condemning and criticizing him.

Garba had on Saturday said “The government is sad that this tragic incident has happened. 43 or thereabout of innocent farmworkers, 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.”

“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.”

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

However, seeing the negative reactions that followed his statement, Garba deemed it fit to explain his statement, noting that he is human and has sympathy for the victims.

Read his statement below:

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

“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.

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

“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.”

Vanguardngr.com

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