Wilfred Eya, Ndubuisi Orji, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, and Chukwudi Nweje
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), apex socio-cultural organisation of the Igbo, Ohanaeze, umbrella body of the Yoruba, Afenifere and Middle Belt Forum, yesterday, lampooned the Presidency for indirectly rationalising the gruesome beheading of 43 farmers in Zabarmari, Borno State.
They described as unfortunate and insensitive statement credited to the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, that the slain farmers went to the farms without clearance from military authorities.
The condemnation came as Shehu in a statement explained that contrary to the outrage that has trailed the interview he granted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that farmers killed by insurgents did not get military clearance before visiting their farms, he is human, compassionate and sympathetic.
The PDP said it was alarmed by an attempt by the Presidency to rationalise the gruesome beheading of 43 farmers in Zabarmari, Borno State by insurgents.
In a statement by Kola Ologbondiyan, the opposition party said the statement by the Presidency was an admission that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been overwhelmed by terrorists and could no longer guarantee the citizens a normal life.
It called on President Buhari to immediately withdraw the statement and apologise to Nigerians, especially the people of Borno State.
He said: “Our party submits that it is weird, reprehensible and repulsive that the Buhari Presidency now seeks to turn itself into a mouthpiece of terrorists by this subtle attempt to rationalise the killing of innocent and hard working Nigerians.
“This unpatriotic stance smacks of support for acts of terrorism and mindless killing of our compatriots by a government whose Commander-in-Chief had promised Nigerians to lead the battle against insurgents from the front.”
Spokesman of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, described it as the peak of wickedness, insensitivity and total disregard for human rights.
No decent human being will say such a thing about the dead under 24 hours of their death, that shows that the lives of Nigerians mean nothing to them, he said.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Prince Uche Achi-Opaga said the government has failed to protect the citizens.
His words:“The sum total is that Nigeria is in total disarray security-wise. We are saying that lives have been lost and they are talking about getting permission from the military; permission from who and why? People should be free to go to their farms where they earn a living. Nigeria is being plundered by Boko Haram, bandits and other criminals.”
President of Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Bitrus Porgu said it was unfortunate for somebody working in the presidency to make such an unguarded statement.
He said the war by the Nigerian military was faulty and observed that the Federal Government was not serious in its effort to counter insurgency.
“It appears the lives of Boko Haram members are more important than those of the people,” he said.
Former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife said there was dearth of conscience in the country.
“Anybody can say anything now because conscience is dead in Nigeria. We have maximum insecurity in the country today.”
Second Republic lawmaker, Junaid Mohammed, said no portion of the Nigerian constitution recommends that a farmer must get permission before going to his farm.
He said the Nigerian Army has failed and it was high time the authorities considered its dissolution.
He said Zabarmari where the farmers were killed is just 25 kilometres from Maiduguri, which is a one city state and if the Army cannot protect it, there was no need for its existence in the first place.
Meanwhile, Shehu has denied rationalising the killing of the farmers.
His words: “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.”
But in a series of tweets, he said his comments did not mean he was not compassionate.
“Routinely, traders, administration officials and even UN agencies get the green light to go to many of the areas to avoid trouble.”