SWITZERLAND, DECEMBER 01 – The Senior Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, has responded to criticisms of his comment on the Zabarmari massacre, in which about 110 rice farmers in Zabarmari, Borno State, were murdered by Boko Haram fighters.
Shehu had said the farmers did not obtain permit from the military before going to the farm, a comment that has attracted widespread criticisms on social media.
However, Shehu has said he was quoted by the media out of context.
“The State of Borno is essentially a military zone up till now that we are talking and much of what people do; much of where they go are governed by the exigencies of security. Routinely, traders, administration officials and even UN agencies get the green light to go to many of the areas to avoid trouble. Information from security agencies says that the Zabarmari marshlands are infested with land mines and movements in around those areas subject to military oversight,” he said in a recent tweet.
“No one is delighted with the massacre in Zabarmari and there is nothing anybody will gain by playing blame games. 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.
“I’m human with tons of compassion and empathy, and could not have said that the victims deserved their fate for ignoring security clearance. 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,” Shehu added