Tag Archives: Nigeria

Nigeria – thousands flee as Boko Haram takes Mubi town

Reuters

Thousands flee as Boko Haram seizes northeast Nigerian town

MAIDUGURI/YOLA Nigeria (Reuters) – Islamist Boko Haram militants have seized control of the northeast Nigerian town of Mubi, killing dozens of people and forcing thousands to flee, witnesses said.

The insurgents stormed Mubi on Wednesday. Gunfire has been heard in the town ever since, witnesses told Reuters.

A security source on Thursday confirmed the town had fallen to the insurgents. Witnesses said they hoisted their black flag over the palace of the traditional ruler.

Witnesses said the insurgents robbed banks, burned down the main market and sacked the palace. One saw them kill a university lecturer and his entire family — Boko Haram, whose name means Western education is sinful, abhors secular learning.

Violence in Nigeria’s northeast has been on the rise since the government announced a ceasefire with the rebels nearly two weeks ago to pursue talks in neighbouring Chad aimed at freeing more than 200 girls kidnapped in April.

The government has blamed criminal networks for the violence, which has undermined public confidence in both the ceasefire and the talks. It has had no immediate comment on the situation in Mubi.

Boko Haram’s five-year-old campaign for an Islamic state, which has killed thousands, is seen as the main security threat to Africa’s biggest economy and leading oil producer.

Student Stephen Adaji said he had been hiding in the bush since mid-morning on Wednesday when the fighting began until a farmer helped him cross to a nearby village and he fled to the nearest city of Yola.

“We couldn’t sleep in the bush because of the fear Boko Haram may get us,” he said. “We were so scared, shooting was going on throughout the night and they often shouted Allah Akbar (God is greatest).”

A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the northeast, Abdul Ibrahim, said the agency had sent extra personnel to help manage people fleeing to Yola, a relatively safe city that is home to the well-guarded American University of Nigeria.

He said an attack just prior on the nearby town of Uba had forced 4,000 people who were in a displaced persons camp to vacate the camp and head for Yola. Several hundred also fled across the border into Cameroon.

“I saw many dead bodies in the bush and many injured people were lying helpless especially children and women,” said James Audu, also a student. “They killed a lecturer and his entire family. I saw them get shot.”

Another survivor, a mobile phone trader called Abubakar Adamu, said the Emir Isa Ahmadu was away on pilgrimage to Mecca when his palace was looted. Boko Haram scorns traditional Islamic authorities in Nigeria as corrupt and self-serving.

 

Nigeria – Boko Haram continue attacks in Adamawa with police station raid

Punch

Boko Haram members

Fighting between Nigerian troops and Boko Haram insurgents escalated in Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba in Adamawa State on Wednesday.

Casualty figures could not be obtained as of 8pm but the development forced the state government to impose 24-hour curfew on the affected communities.

Our correspondents gathered that   Mubi, the second largest town in the state and host of two high institutions, was the worst hit.

A parent, Ahmad Sajoh, whose   daughter is studying at the Adamawa State University, said that as of 2pm on Wednesday, the police barracks in the Government Reservation Area was overrun by the insurgents while the prison in the town was blown open.

He added that   fighting which was ongoing at the army barracks caused confusion at the IDP camp in the Lamorde area of the town.

However, an online newspaper, SaharaReporters reported that Boko Haram insurgents took over the headquarters of the 234 battalion in the town.

Our correspondents gathered that the development made banks to move their cash to Yola, the state capital.

Sources told The PUNCH that insurgents   launched an attack on Uba   in the Michika-Madagali area of the state in response to sustained aerial bombardment of their hideouts by security forces.

Residents said they saw a large number of insurgents at Mararaba, a town about seven kilometres from Mubi.

Sajoh told one of our correspondents that his daughter called to inform him about the development in Mubi.

He said, “This morning, I got a call from my daughter who is a 200-level student. She was hysterical. I was in Abuja for a meeting, but her information forced me to head back to Yola immediately.

“I ordered her to leave the hostel and join her cousins to escape the town. I called my father who confirmed the story. By the time I arrived at Yola airport, the town had fallen to the insurgents.

“My parents are trapped while my daughter and her cousins are missing. We have lost contact for   six hours.”

Sajoh, who is the director of Press and Public Affairs to the former Governor Murtala Nyako, added, “Mallam Iliyasu of the Bursary Department of the state university, who is trapped in the town said by 2pm, the Police Barracks in the GRA was overrun by the insurgents, the prison was blown open while fighting was going on at the army barracks. The IDP camp at Lamorde area was thrown into confusion.

“The new rulers of the town had issued a decree banning   entry and exit to the town. Students who trooped to the motor park were stranded with most taking refuge in any house that could welcome them.

“The barracks are the least safe locations in the town. So far, there are no reported cases of killings or abductions. But fear and apprehension have taken over.”

Another source said that Mubi was currently deserted by residents after the incident, the second in three months.

The   higher institutions in the   town were forced to close down again.

There are fears of   humanitarian crisis should the town fall into the hands of the insurgents.

A fleeing resident, Joshua Gajere, said   several people might have been killed during the shootings that lasted for almost two hours in Uba and other villages.

He said, ‘‘We are in serious trouble as these boys (Boko Haram) have taken over our towns, splitting into groups and advancing towards Mararaba, Mubi and Vintim, the home town of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh. They made the   Nigerian troops to retreat to Mubi’’.

Gajere added, “As I am talking to you now, residents are scampering for safety.

‘‘Mubi has now become a ghost of itself as people in their hundreds are fleeing for their lives.

‘‘Even here in Maiha, we saw military vehicles zooming off towards Yola, the state capital.’’

However, a resident from Michika, Mr. Siva Zira, told one of our correspondents that the   military was having an upper   hand as they were able to dislodge the insurgents in Michika and Uba.

Meanwhile,   Governor James Ngillari has asked the people of the state, particularly those in the affected areas to remain calm as security agents were on the top of the situation.

His Director of Press and Public Affairs,   P.P. Elisha, said   the governor met with security heads in the state to assess the situation.

He said, “It’s unfortunate with this development, His Excellency, has met with security chiefs in the state on Wednesday to assess the situation.

“People should remain calm, security agents are on the top of situation.’’

It was further gathered banks in Mubi have taken the pre-emptive steps to move out large volume of cash to the Central Bank of Nigeria in Yola.

Our correspondents could not get the Director, Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, to comment on the   hostilities as the calls to his mobile telephone line did not connect.

The government has imposed a 24-hour curfew on Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba.

The Secretary to the State Government, Mr Andrew Weyle, who announced this, advised the people to stay away from the roads and other public places.

He said,“Following the escalation of violence by the insurgents, his Excellency the Governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Bala James Ngillari, has approved the imposition of 24 hours curfew on Mubi, Mararaba Mubi and Uba, with immediate effect.

“People are advised to stay off the roads and public places except those on essential services.”

It was further gathered that the insurgents   killed the son of a prominent traditional ruler in the area.

A resident, who identified himself as Kwahir Sani, said, “We fled to a village called Wuro Gude near Mubi when the violence erupted and I have lost contact with some of my children.

“As I am talking to you now, we are hearing gunshots by military in Mubi.”

It was gathered that the insurgents also attacked Askira Uba and Kukawa in Borno State for over six hours.

A fleeing resident said the terrorists killed many people, burnt many houses and carted away food stuffs.

Agence France Presse reported that the heavily armed terrorists, on arrival in Kukawa, opened fire on a police station and market, sending many fleeing.

Copyright PUNCH.

Nigeria – government-Boko Haram talks to continue in Chad

Punch

The Federal Government and the Boko Haram Islamic sect will on Monday meet in Chad to further discuss the release of the over 200 schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014.

This came a week after a botched ceasefire agreement reached by the Federal government and the sect.

The peace talk between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram sect, which is being mediated by the Chadian government, had been called into question since it was announced by the military last week following the refusal of both parties to respect the ceasefire deal.

Boko Haram has yet to comment on the ceasefire and its fighters have continued to attack villages in the North-East.

The insurgency group is responsible for the killings, abductions and the displacement of many Nigerians in the North-East.

The Chadian government, however, confirmed that Nigeria’s deal with the sect to free the schoolgirls would still go ahead despite the breakdown of a truce.

A very senior official, Chad’s foreign ministry, Moussa Dago, who spoke with Reuters on Friday, said that the key to the agreement would be a prisoner swap.

He said it appeared some Boko Haram factions were refusing to abide by the deal.

Dago said, “Quite possibly, those who are fighting are dissidents that even Boko Haram isn’t able to control. So far, there is no reason for others to doubt this agreement.

“What I can say is that those that negotiated with the Nigerian government did so in good faith … We are waiting for the next phase which is the release of the girls.”

Dago said he was confident that the negotiators had the authority to speak on behalf of Boko Haram’s reclusive leader, Abubakar Shekau, who has allegedly been killed by the Nigerian military more than once.

“They are envoys who answer to their leader Shekau, who himself confirmed that these emissaries spoke on his behalf. That was confirmed in writing to the Chadian government,” he said, confirming local press reports that the negotiators were named Cheikh Goni Hassane and Cheikh Boukar Umarou.

Dago admitted that it would be embarrassing for the Chadian President Idriss Deby’s government, which has played a lead role in diplomacy in Africa’s turbulent Sahel region in recent years, if the girls were not freed.

“It would be very disappointing. We are engaged in this now. If this negotiation doesn’t succeed, that would be damaging to Chad’s facilitating role,” he said.

Dago told Reuters that the two sides agreed verbally to a series of points summarised in a document he had seen, including the release of the schoolgirls and of jailed Boko Haram fighters.

Dago said, “The starting condition of Boko Haram was the liberation of some of their members; that is the compensation.”

He added that the specifics on the names and number of Boko Haram fighters still to be released had not yet been agreed.

He said he still expected the girls to be freed but he stated that the Boko Haram negotiators were no longer in Chad even though they had agreed to return in October after freeing the girls to hold more talks.

“We remain optimistic. The two sides agreed to find a negotiated solution and to show their good faith they already freed some hostages and announced a ceasefire,” he said.

According to him, Chad does not know where the abducted Chibok girls are being held, but Dago said it was likely they were outside of Chad and spread out over a wide area.

“The Chinese hostages freed earlier under the agreement were found scattered across northern Cameroon,” he said.

“They (Boko Haram) gave us guarantees that the girls are well but we don’t know physically where they are,” he said.

“But they have certainly dispersed them like the Chinese hostages, who were spread out over a large area.”

He explained that the two parties planned to meet again for a third time in Chad after the release of the schoolgirls to draft a roadmap to tackle more fundamental issues.

He said, “For the next stage of negotiations, the girls need to be freed. We cannot go into details as long as this question remains and it is a requirement of Chad that the girls are released before we start the next stage of talks.”

Similarly, the self-acclaimed Secretary-General of the sect, Mallam Danladi Ahmadu, confirmed that the group’s ceasefire agreement with the Federal Government was still on course.

Ahmadu, who spoke to the Hausa service of the Voice of America on Friday, said that the Chibok girls would be released on Monday to the Chadian President, Idriss Derby, for onward transfer to the Nigerian government.

He added that an enlarged meeting of the group had been fixed for the weekend to prepare grounds for the Monday meeting with the Federal Government, affirming that the final ceasefire and the release of the girls would be done by the group.

However, the group said it was unaware of the latest kidnapping of over 40 women and girls in the border villages between Adamawa and Borno states.

He admitted that many anti-social groups had infiltrated the sect.

Ahmadu also stated that political thugs, armed robbers, kidnappers, hired assassins and other anti-social groups now parade themselves as members of the sect.

He, however, added that all things being equal, all the factions would fizzle out once the ceasefire agreement was sealed.

The Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh had issued an order last Friday, telling all service chiefs “to comply with the ceasefire agreement between Nigeria and Boko Haram in all theatres of operations.”

The text went out after Ahmadu told VOA that a cease-fire agreement had been reached.

Ahmadu and a close advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ambassador Hassan Tukur, had told VOA that the sides were holding talks facilitated by the Chadian President and high-level officials from Cameroon.

Ahmadu, who said he was at a location on the Nigerian-Chadian border, had said the girls are “in good condition and unharmed.”

Nigerian President Jonathan has been criticised at home and abroad for his slow response to the kidnapping and for the inability of Nigerian troops to quell the violence by the militants, seen as the biggest security threat to Africa’s top economy and leading energy producer.

Boko Haram has said it is fighting to establish an Islamic state in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria.

The group has launched scores of attacks in the past five years, targeting markets, bus stations, government facilities, churches and even mosques. Militants recently took over some towns in the North-East for what the group’s leader said would be an Islamic caliphate.

The Nigerian military said the man who appeared in Boko Haram videos as Abubakar Shekau was actually an impostor, and that the real Shekau was killed several years ago.

It said the impostor was killed last month during a battle in the town of Konduga. A new video of the man appeared a few days later but the military had stood by its assertion that the Boko Haram leader is dead.

Copyright PUNCH.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.

Contact: editor@punchng.com

IMG_1011.JPG

Nigeria – 25 killed despite truce with Boko Haram

Reuters

Reuters) – At least 25 suspected Boko Haram insurgents were killed in clashes between soldiers and the Islamist militants in northeast Nigeria and five civilians were killed in fighting elsewhere in the region, a military source and residents said on Monday.

A ceasefire agreement between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government was expected to lead to the liberation of more than 200 school girls kidnapped by the militants six months ago, and talks were due to continue in neighbouring Chad on Monday.

Boko Haram has not confirmed the truce and there have been at least six attacks over the weekend — blamed by security sources on the insurgents — that have killed several dozen people since the announcement of the ceasefire.

A government spokesman has said that the fighting on Sunday may be the work of criminal gangs in the lawless region.

An army officer, who requested anonymity, said the militants tried to enter the town of Damboa late on Sunday through Alagarno, a Boko Haram hideout, but soldiers fought them off.

“Our men gunned down 25 of the insurgents because they would have entered Damboa and unleashed more terror on the town that is just picking up from its ruins,” the officer said.

He said an armoured vehicle and some arms were recovered from the insurgents.

Damboa, a garrison town near the border with Cameroon, has been the site of fierce fighting between the militants and Nigerian forces for months. The insurgents sacked the town in July but were driven out by an army counter-offensive.

A member of pro-government Civilian Joint Task Force vigilantes, Mohammed Haruna, said of clashes on Sunday, “Two of our members came to (the town of) Biu this morning from Damboa and said the soldiers engaged Boko Haram yesterday and the battle lasted till about midnight.”

Separately, Maiduguri resident Andrew Tada, said the insurgents killed five people in Gava, a hilly town in Gwoza Local Government Area not far from Damboa.

Tada said his brother in Gava was lucky to have escaped to the top of a mountain.

“My brother is still there now with other relatives, women and children,” he told Reuters after speaking with his brother on the phone.

“They (the militants) came yesterday (Sunday) while people were scouting for food at the foot of the mountain. When the insurgents sighted our people, they pursued them and slaughtered five,” Tada said. Reuters

Nigeria – regional command and battalion to fight Boko Haram

Reuters

Regional leaders step up Boko Haram fight with troops, command centre

Niamey Wed Oct 8, 2014 

Niamey (Reuters) – Leaders of Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Benin on Tuesday announced plans to step up the fight against Boko Haram with an additional battalion and a command centre to tackle the militants whose insurgency has spread beyond Nigeria, a statement said.

Boko Haram’s violent five-year campaign for an Islamic state has killed thousands and is threatening the stability of countries in the West and Central Africa regions.

In the past two months, it has progressed from bombings, raids and kidnappings to trying to seize territory in remote areas near the Cameroon border, possibly inspired by similar moves by Sunni Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria.

The militants have also carried out incursions into Niger and Chad, and authorities fear the attacks will continue to spread if left unchecked.

The four heads of states and a representative of Cameroon’s president said after meeting in Niger’s capital Niamey that a command centre for an already agreed-upon multinational force, led by a chief of staff will be in place by Nov. 20.

“The heads of state regrets the persistence of Boko Haram Islamic sect’s atrocious acts of terror on people and security forces in Nigeria and other neighbouring countries,” the statement said.

The leaders agreed to finalise the deployment of troops promised by member states to form the multinational force within their national borders by Nov. 1.

Benin, Nigeria’s western neighbour, whose border stretches from the Atlantic to the Sahel north, was also asked to deploy a military battalion to its border with Nigeria.

The Niamey meeting is a follow-up to a May summit in Paris where the leaders promised to improve cooperation in the fight against Boko Haram after the group kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls and threatened to destabilise the wider region.  Reuters

 

Nigeria – the many face of Boko Haram’s Shekau

African Arguments

Boko Haram and the many faces of Abubakar Shekau – By Jacob Zenn

Abubakar_shekau

On September 24, 2014, Nigerian and Cameroonian sources provided video evidence (6:24) that a Boko Haram commander named Bashir Muhammed, who ‘doubled’ as the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau, was killed in Konduga in Borno State. This prompts the question: Where is the real Shekau? There are several credible theories about Shekau’s whereabouts (and whether he is even still alive) and what the impact of this imposter’s death may be for Nigerian security ahead of its presidential elections in February 2015.

Explaining the Shekaus

It remains possible that the Nigerian security forces were correct when they claimed to have killed Shekau in July 2009 along with 1,000 other Boko Haram members, including founder Muhammed Yusuf and key financier Alhaji Buji Foi. When a heavier-looking Shekau re-emerged in a video in July 2010, the security forces claimed the image was “digitally manipulated.” The Shekau of July 2010, as well subsequent commanders claiming to be him in Boko Haram videos since then, may have been several people (including Bashir Muhammed.) In other words, the real Shekau may have been dead since July 2009 but because, unlike Muhammed Yusuf’s death, this was never proven with video or photographic evidence, Boko Haram was able to ‘duplicate’ him.

Another possibility is that Shekau survived the July 2009 crackdown and appeared alongside several imposters until July 2013, when he was killed in Amchide, Cameroon by defectors from his ranks or the security forces. Since July 2013 several imposters, including Bashir Muhammed, could have appeared as ‘Shekau’. However, UAE-based Nigerian journalist Ahmed Salkida now claims that Shekau is still alive along with one or two other imposters, except, of course, Bashir Muhammed. Future Boko Haram videos will likely provide more insight on whether Shekau is dead or alive or if there is a successor.

A second question that arises is why Boko Haram would decide to feature several Shekaus? One possibility is that this leadership structure was learned or appropriated from Niger Delta militants. Their spokesperson, Jomo Ngomo, represented several commanders who all used the name ‘Jomo Ngomo’ to communicate with the press, so that when one commander was arrested the others could take over under one voice. Similarly, when Boko Haram spokesperson, Abu Qaqa defected and was arrested in 2012, other Abu Qaqas emerged, who were then known as Abu Qaqa II and Abu Qaqa III.

This ‘revolving’ leadership structure may also have been taught to Boko Haram by leaders from its Ansaru faction. Ansaru was led by Nigerian al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) members and targeted foreigners for kidnapping and Nigerian soldiers in northwest Nigeria in 2012 and 2013. In fact, one of the first probable Shekau imposters appeared in a split-screen video of ‘Shekau’ and seven French hostages in Cameroon in what was very likely an Ansaru-led attack. Some Ansaru cells reintegrated with Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria in 2013 and seem to have multiplied the ‘Shekaus’ in operation.

The existence of several Shekaus has made it more difficult for the security forces to gain the morale boosting victory of ‘decapitating’ Boko Haram’s leadership, while making it also more difficult for foreign governments like the US and UK to confirm the location of Shekau, who is a designated terrorist.

Bashir Muhammed is Dead, What’s Next?

Now that Bashir Muhammed is dead, what are the opportunities for the Nigerian security forces? First and foremost, the death may allow the security forces to exploit Boko Haram’s factionalization and negotiate with its different constituent parts. The existence of multiple Shekaus suggests that there are several Boko Haram factions that have had a mutual understanding with each other. Otherwise, one of the Shekaus would have released a video declaring the others Shekaus as fakes.

This has not happened. It has only been commanders who have fallen out with Shekau who have gone public and said there were fake Shekaus prior to Bashir Muhammed’s death. These commanders tend to favour some form of negotiation with the Nigerian government for the release of Boko Haram prisoners and compensation for the families of victims of the July 2009 clashes. The elimination of Bashir Muhammed may strengthen these commanders, thus providing an opportunity for the government to test negotiations through back channels, probably involving religious leaders.

It also appears that some of Bashir Muhammed’s fighters were disloyal to him and told him that Konduga was safe for travel while secretly setting him up for the ambush that killed him. These fighters may now join another Boko Haram faction, such as Ansaru, which claims to be more ‘humane’ than Boko Haram – criticizing Boko Haram’s killing of Muslim civilians. But if the government and civil society groups act quickly enough they may be able to reintegrate some of these informers into society through educational and employment programs before they consider re-engaging militancy under any faction.

One reason for growing disloyalty in Bashir Muhammed’s faction may be related to forcible recruitment. Under Muhammed Yusuf and during the first year after Shekau declared ‘jihad’ against Nigeria in 2010, Boko Haram had some support from the local population in Borno State. Their followers sympathized with Yusuf’s call for a ‘pure’ Islamic State that he believed would eliminate the corruption, poverty, and impunity of Nigerian society.

In 2010 and 2011 Boko Haram focused mostly on targeting politicians and religious leaders, who some followers viewed as corrupt. But when Boko Haram started massacring civilians and carrying out suicide bombings at churches and markets in 2012, it lost some popular support and in 2013 began forcibly recruiting young men as foot soldiers. Most notoriously, it also began kidnapping women to use as scouts, cooks, porters and sex slaves. These types of forcible recruits may be more likely to leave Boko Haram and offer the sort of intelligence that the security forces need to locate the group’s hideouts and undermine its domestic, regional and international networks.

Conclusion

There have been few points of optimism recently in the Nigerian security landscape. But the death of Bashir Muhammed does present opportunities. The Nigerian government and security forces have precious little time before elections in February 2015 to right the ship in the country (especially Borno State) so polls can be held there. As a result, all efforts should be taken to see whether there are now some factions willing to negotiate a ceasefire and members willing to leave militancy altogether, provide intelligence on Boko Haram to prevent future attacks, and rejoin society through programs that the government and civil society should immediately create.

Jacob Zenn is an analyst of African Affairs and author of “Northern Nigeria’s Boko Haram: The Prize in al-Qaeda’s Africa Strategy,” which was published by The Jamestown Foundation.

Nigeria – Boko Haram beheads pilot of missing plane

Punch

Boko Haram beheads pilot of missing plane

 A new footage released by the dreaded Islamist sect, Boko Haram and obtained by AP, showed the beheading of a man believed to be one of the pilots of the Nigerian Air Force jet which went missing and later crashed earlier on September 11 after it left Yola, capital of Adamawa State, for a bombing campaign against the militants.

The video shows a man decked in a camouflage vest kneeling while an axe-wielding fighter stands menacingly next to him before eventually chopping off his head. Moments before the gruesome execution, the victim who spoke in English and identified himself as a wing commander in the Nigerian Air Force, revealed that they were undertaking a mission in the Kauri area of Borno State on September 11 when the plane suddenly crashed to the ground.

“We were shot down and our aircraft crashed. To this day I don’t know the whereabouts of my second pilot,” he said.

Abubakar Shekau, leader of the group who military forces claimed to have killed first in 2009, later 2013 and recently a few days ago, was also seen in the latest video, according to the AP, said the sect had downed about 10 military aircraft so far – a position the Nigerian soldiers openly disagreed with.

Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters has insisted Shekau is dead.

It said the video showing that the terrorist was alive could have been manipulated.

This claim was obtained from a statement the Defence Headquarters posted on its website on Friday, a day after Shekau released a video claiming that he was still alive.

The Defence Headquarters said there was no proof which indicated that the video was genuine.

It said the Nigerian Airforce jet that the Boko Haram claimed to have shot down had been missing before he was killed. It said that the dead Shekau could not have resurrected.

The Defence Headquarters said, “From immediate observation and what some online news outlets claimed to have seen, the video did not indicate when it was shot neither did it show any proof of life or currency such as screen time or date. The video also did not make any reference to anything that has happened since the impostor’s reported death.

“It is also noteworthy that the air plane said to be mentioned in the video had been missing before he was killed. It should not surprise anybody if the terrorists decide to manipulate pictures, clone another Shekau or upload a pre-recorded video all in a bid to prove invincible.

“As far as we are concerned, the individual who was appearing in video and claiming to be the leader of the terrorist group was killed in the Kondunga battle in September. The resemblance of the corpse and that of the eccentric character was incontrovertible. His identity was equally corroborated by people who knew him before we announced his death.”

Shekau had earlier described as “propaganda” the claim by the Defence Headquarters that he was killed early September in Kodunga, Borno State.

He had claimed in the 36-minute video that Boko Haram fighters shot down the Nigerian Air Force fighter jet which was reported missing three weeks ago.

In the video, Shekau stands in front of three camouflaged vans, flanked by four heavily armed and masked fighters.

He said, “I hereby put to lie the claim that I was killed. Here I am alive. I will only die the day Allah takes my breath. I challenge you (military), I challenge you. You even said I was killed. If you killed me, does that mean you killed (the) religion? You are not honest. You have no proof, you have nothing to say.”

But an Abuja-based security analyst, Mike Adelakun, asked the military to stop feeding Nigerians with lies about the death of the terrorist leader.

Adelakun told Saturday PUNCH that there was no justifiable reason the military should conclude that Shekau had been killed without a thorough investigation and confirmation.

He admitted that the sect could have been using manipulation to deceive the military and the world that its leader had not been killed.

Adelakun said, “It is possible that the sect leader had been killed and the group is now seeking all available means to get attention. For many days now, there have been no activities linked to the deadly group, which could make an average Nigerian believe that Shekau is indeed dead.

“But the military supposed to have investigated properly before giving the public a confirmation that the sect leader is truly indeed. There a number of technologies like imaging techniques and others to confirm such. By now, the Defence Headquarters should be sure of whatever it wants to say before saying it. Otherwise, their respect will be lost.”

The Director, Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, assured Nigerians the ongoing counter terrorism operation was yielding the expected results in the operational area.

The Defence Spokesman urged Nigerians not to despair, stressing that the military was committed to the sustenance of the ongoing operation to cripple the activities of the Boko Haram in the country.

He said, “I can assure you that no level or amount of barbaric display of bestial atrocities will distract the Nigerian military from sustaining the tempo of ongoing operations to decimate, degrade and bring the remnants of the terrorists already in disarray to due justice.

“The campaign against terror is still recording the expected result in the front. Nigerians should not despair.”

PUNCH.