Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu has said that farmers who were killed by Boko Haram on Saturday did not have military clearance to be on the rice farms. Shehu said this in an interview with BBC on Monday, stating further that people need to know what it is like in the Lake Chad Basin area.

According to him, although much of those areas have been liberated from Boko Haram terrorists, there are a number of spaces that have not been cleared for the return of villagers who have been displaced.

His words: “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.”

Asked if he was blaming the farmers, he said “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.”