As he prepares to leave office at the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure on May 29, Garba Shehu says he deeply regretted blaming Borno farmers who were killed by terrorists for not obtaining permission before going to their farms.
The presidential media aide had in November 2020, granted an interview with the BBC to blame the rice farmers for failing to obtain security clearance before returning till their fields.
Mr Shehu was at the time reacting to reports that over 70 farmers had been killed in Zabarmari village by Boko Haram insurgents.
His take sparked a wave of criticisms against the Buhari regime following a Peoples Gazette report. Many Nigerians deemed Mr Shehu callous and insensitive for blaming victims who were striving to feed themselves for their own deaths.
In a recent interview with the BBC, however, Mr Shehu, who served as Mr Buhari’s spokesman for eight years, said he regrets his statements on the killing of the Borno rice farmers.
“When Boko Haram killed more than 50 farmers, some were even saying they were 110 in Zabarmari Borno State, and the abduction of more than 300 girls in Kankara Katsina State.
“In all these two incidents, security authoritatively told me false information, I used it but later was proven otherwise. Like Kankara case where about 300 girls were abducted but the persons that should ideally know the situation told me that those kidnapped were not more than 10, I am still in pain because of these,” Mr Shehu said.
The outgoing Buhari regime was characterised by widespread killings and kidnappings for ransom by bandits and terrorists with the government spokespeople sweating to explain the malaise away.