The Nigerian government has criticised the 43 rice farmers killed in Borno for not getting military clearance before going to their farms.
Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said the farmers should have gotten a military clearance before going to farm.
“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,” Shehu told BBC in an interview.
“People need to understand what it is like in the Lake Chad area. “Much of those areas have been liberated by Boko Haram terrorists but there are a number of spaces that have not been cleared for the return of villagers who have been displaced.
“Ideally, all of these places ought to probably be allowed to pass the test of military clearance before settlers or even farmers resume activities on those fields.”
About 43 rice farmers were killed by Boko Haram in Zabarmari, about 20 kilometres from Maiduguri, on Saturday and were buried on Sunday amidst tears in the community.
The United Nations described their killing as “the most violent attack” targeted at civilians in 2020.
While governors in the northern region have condemned the killing and called for better security, Shehu said that the military cannot be in every part of the area.
“The military is not present on every inch of space in that area,” Shehu said.
On the possibility of people returning to their farms and homes around the area, Shehu said, “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.”
Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday expressed grief over the killing of farmers on rice fields at Zabarmari, in Jere Local Government of Borno State, describing the terrorist killings as insane.
“I condemn the killing of our hardworking farmers by terrorists in Borno State. The entire country is hurt by these senseless killings. My thoughts are with their families in this time of grief,” Buhari said.