President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu who has been waking waves since Monday morning for the wrong reasons, has cried out that people are quoting him out of context.
Garba had in an interview with the BBC on Monday, stated that the 43 farmers that were killed by Boko Haram on Saturday did not have military clearance to be on the rice farms when the attack happened.
When asked if he was not blaming the farmers for going to the area, Shehu responded, “Not exactly but the truth has to be said. Was there any clearance by the military which is in total control of those areas? Did anybody ask to resume activity? I have been told by the military leaders that they had not been so advised and certainly, therefore, it was a window that the terrorists exploited.”
He added, “The military is not present in every inch of space in that area. Even if the people are willing to go back, a lot of those areas have been mined and mine clearance needs to be carried out and those areas must be cast as being ok for human habitation or agricultural activity.”
His comment has earned him the latest victim of Twitter backlash as Nigerians have continued to decry him and the government.
In reaction to the public’s outburst, Garba on his Twitter page averred that he was only responding to a question and should not be misquoted.
“Today, I found myself leading the trends in the social media for the wrong reasons.
“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”.