Boko Haram: Uncertainty over Shekau’s fateJTF claims he may have been killed
We’re winning, says Army
There was uncertainty yesterday over the fate of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, following reports on his wellbeing.
The Joint Task Force (JTF) in Borno claimed in a statement that Shekau may have died in Amitchide (a border community in Cameroon) after an encounter with troops. But a highly-placed source said the position of the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) was that it was hasty to reach such a conclusion.
Besides, there was no independent confirmation of the claim, which Boko Haram neither confirmed nor denied.
It was learnt that the DHQ had been analysing all clues and documents the JTF presented to it as evidence that Shekau may have died.
The DHQ was said to have passed an interim verdict that the JTF’s fact-sheet was yet to “add up”.
According to sources, the DHQ asked the JTF to “exercise caution” in making any announcement until Shekau’s situation had been verified.
But the JTF, in a statement by its spokesman, Lt.-Col. Sagir Musa, said intelligence report had shown that Shekau, who was reportedly injured during a crossfire with troops in Sambisa Forest in Borno State on June 30, might have died in Amitchide between July 25 and August 3.
The statement said: “Intelligence report available to the Joint Task Force Operation RESTORE ORDER revealed that Abubakar Shekau, the most dreaded and wanted Boko Haram terrorists leader may have died.
“He died of gunshot wound received in an encounter with the JTF troops in one of their camps at Sambisa Forest on 30 June 2013.
“Shekau was mortally wounded in the encounter and was sneaked into Amitchide – a border community in Cameroon – for treatment which he never recovered.
“It is greatly believed that Shekau might have died between 25 July to 3 August, 2013. He was reported to have masterminded the kidnap of the seven French citizens and that of the elder statesman Alhaji (Dr) Shettima Ali Monguno, in addition to many murders of Islamic clerics in Northern Nigeria.
“He was also responsible for bombings of many places of worship and public buildings including Police and United Nations Headquarters in Abuja.
“The recent video released on 13 August, 2013 by the purported sect leader was dramatised by an imposter to hoodwink the sect members to continue with the terrorism and to deceive the undiscerning minds.
“The JTF wishes to appeal to the sect members to lay down their arms and embrace the Federal Government’s offer for dialogue.”
But a top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The DHQ has received documents or intelligence report from the JTF on the purported death of Shekau but all these are still being analysed.
“The circumstances presented have some gaps which we have to fill through further investigation.
“The DHQ believes the details made available have not added up. So, as far as we are concerned, it is still hasty to conclude that Shekau is dead.
“As a matter of fact, the JTF was advised to tarry a while in making the announcement of Shekau’s death. But it was shocking to the DHQ.”
Another source, who also pleaded not to be named because of what he called the sensitivity of the matter, said: “There are challenges in verifying the death of Shekau. For instance, if Shekau was shot wounded on June 30 by troops, how come the DHQ was just being informed?
“How come none of the Boko Haram members in custody could account for Shekau’s death, unlike what they did on the death of Shekau’s deputy, Momodu Bama? Why is it impossible to send a decoy mission to Amatchide in Cameroon to verify his death?
“The purported appearance of Shekau on August 13 made the claim of his death about 10 days earlier suspicious by the DHQ.
“Although it is common for members of such a sect to sustain the struggle after the death of their leader, we might have to do voice screening or analysis to determine whether Shekau actually spoke on August 13 or not.
“Certainly, we have some gaps to fill, including liaising with Cameroonian authorities, to verify Shekau’s death in Amatchide.”
The defunct JTF in Borno State and the Borno Vigilance Youths Group, (BVYG) on Sunday arrested a top Boko Haram informant (name withheld) in Maiduguri, the state capital.
The suspect, who claimed to be a close associate of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau had some documents on the activities of the sect on him, when he was arrested.
He was picked up at Baban Layi, a commercial area of Maiduguri metropolis, mostly dominated by Igbo traders, before they relocated in the heat of the Boko Haram crisis.
According to JTF sources in Maiduguri, five other Boko Haram suspects were arrested in Gwange and Kulolori/Shuwari wards.
Two of the suspects were arrested in Kulolori ward the remaining three were rounded up in Gwange area.
Chairman of BVYG, Abubakar Mallum, said the arrested informant, claimed to be a merchant.