The dreaded Boko Haram insurgents struck again on Saturday, November 28, killing at least 43 farmers at Zabarmari town in Borno state.
On Monday, November 30, the senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, spoke to BBC about the incident.
In this piece, Legit.ng highlights what Shehu said on behalf of the Nigerian presidency about the killing which has been tagged Zabarmari Massacre.
1. The situation at Lake Chad Basin area
The presidential spokesman said the Nigerian government is sad about the tragic incident. He, however, said that Borno residents and others need to understand what is happening at the Lake Chad Basin area where the incident happened.
He said though much of the area has been liberated from the Boko Haram terrorists, there are a number of places that have not been cleared for the return of the villagers who have been displaced.
2. No military clearance
Shehu said those places in the region ideally should be allowed to pass the test of military clearance before settlers or even farmers resume activities.
He, however, said military leaders have said that the slain farmers did not get clearance to return to the area.
"Was 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 and certainly it is a window the terrorists have exploited."
3. Military not present everywhere in the affected area
Asked why the military could not protect the farmers since he said they were in control of the area, the presidential spokesman said:
Zabarmari massacre: Military counters UN over figures of farmers murdered as body reports 110 killed
"The military is not present on every inch of space in that area."
"Even if the people are ready to go back, a lot of these areas have been mined and mine clearance has to be carried out and those areas must be passed as being okay for human habitation or agriculture activities."
4. What government is doing after the attack
Asked what the Nigerian government is doing about some women who were allegedly also taken by the terrorists, Shehu said the Nigerian Army is still investigating the full extent of what actually happened, including the number of fatalities which he said might still change.
He added that the Army's Rapid Response Squad attached to the military brigade in the affected has been charged to go after the Boko Haram terrorists.
5. Nigerian government needs cooperation from citizens to address insecurity
Responding to the question regarding Borno governor's statement encouraging citizens to join vigilantes to address the insecurity, Shehu said such move should not be seen as a sign of failure on the part of the government's security forces.
He said securing the nation is not for the military or the police alone, adding that it must involve everyone, even if they are just limited to reporting the movement of suspicious characters
"It is our duty, all of us as Nigerians, to bring our hands to the table and see that we solve this problem."
Earlier, Legit.ng reported that the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) on Sunday, November 29, reiterated its call on citizens in northern communities to rise up and protect themselves.
The spokesman of the coalition, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said government and security agencies could no longer be relied upon to protect northern communities.
Suleiman, nevertheless, demanded an immediate and comprehensive overhaul of the leadership of the nation’s military and entire security assets.
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