AUGUST 25, 2014 BY ADELANI ADEPEGBA, FIDELIS SORIWEI AND UMAR MUHAMMED WITH AGENCY REPORT 247 COMMENTS
LEADER of the terrorist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, has re-designated Gwoza town that was seized by his men last Thursday as an Islamic caliphate.
Shekau announced the declaration that Gwoza had become an Islamic caliphate in a video obtained by the Agence France-Press on Sunday.
The terrorist also vowed that his group would not leave the town.
“Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in the town of Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate. By the grace of Allah, we will not leave the town. We have come to stay,” Shekau said in the 52-minute video.
In a July video, Shekau had voiced support for the leader of the Islamic State militants, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who in late June declared himself “the caliph” and “leader of Muslims everywhere.”
The AFP report however said it was not clear if Shekau was declaring himself to be a part of Baghdadi’s call or if he was referring to a separate Nigerian caliphate.
In the 19th century, a Sokoto caliphate was proclaimed across most of the modern day northern Nigeria and was considered separate from other Islamic kingdoms, such as the Ottoman Empire.
There was no indication that Shekau was actually in Gwoza for the filming and his whereabouts remained unknown but he vowed that his fighters would keep control of the area.
The United Nations humanitarian office had earlier in the month confirmed reports that Gwoza was under rebel control.
Boko Haram is also believed to be in control of other areas near Gwoza in southern Borno, as well as large swathes of territory in northern Borno and at least one town in neighbouring Yobe State.
Experts have described Boko Haram’s gains in recent weeks as unprecedented, saying the group was closer than ever to achieving its goal of carving out a strict Islamic state across northern Nigeria.
A major military offensive at the onset of the emergency rule in May last year appeared to put the militants on the defensive, flushing them out of their strongholds.
But critics say top brass failed to sustain the pressure and allowed the Islamists to retake some of the areas they had abandoned.
In an apparent mutiny, some troops rejected deployment in Gwoza last week because of lack of adequate weapons.
Show of power
After Shekau’s speech and in demonstrating their being in control of Gwoza, insurgents were seen, in the video, atop pick-up trucks firing rocket-propelled grenades and other heavily armed insurgents firing weapons as they walk calmly along the road.
The footage appears to show them taking over a military base, stealing weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition as well as fuel cans.
In one frame, a fighter stands on top of a tank, waving the Islamists’ black flag.
The AFP reports that the end of the video depicted scenes of grisly executions, similar to those released by IS in recent weeks.
In one scene, about 20 men in civilian clothing are shown with their hands tied behind their backs and lying by the roadside before they are shot at close range.
A second scene shows two men, whom Shekau said disguised themselves as women to escape the town, beaten to death with shovels. Two others similarly dressed are shot beside what appears to be a trench full of bodies.
Military denies takeover
The military authorities meanwhile have debunked the claim by Shekau that he had declared Gwoza the seat of a new caliphate in the North-East.
The Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen Chris Olukolade, said in the Defence Headquarters Twitter handle twitter.com/DefenceInfoNG that the military would not allow any part of the country to be ceded to the insurgents.
Olukolade described the declaration by Shekau as empty, insisting that the territorial integrity of Nigeria was intact.
He said that a military operation to retake Gwoza was underway.
He said, “The claim is empty. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nigerian state is still intact.
“Any group of terrorists laying claim to any portion of the country will not be allowed to get away with the expression of delusion and crime.
“Appropriate military operations to secure that area from the activities of the bandits are still ongoing.”
Insurgents seize 200 rifles
Meanwhile, investigations have revealed that 200 AK 47 assault rifles belonging to the police were carted away by the Boko Haram insurgents, who attacked the Police Academy in Gwoza last Wednesday.
About 159 of the guns were seized from men of the three mobile police units— Mopol 50, Abuja; Mopol 38 and Mopol 58 based in Akwanga, and Lafia respectively, who were undergoing training at the academy.
It was learnt that the authorities resumed the suspended training with the batch of 159 personnel from the Police Mobile Force only for them to be attacked a week into the exercise.
Fifty-three policemen were drafted from each of the three mobile police formations, thereby bringing the total number to 159 aside from those on the ground.
Before the attack on the police academy, the riot policemen, investigations further revealed, had been instructed to keep all their arms in the armoury hence the insurgents did not encounter any strong resistance.
Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau
25 August 2014
Boko Haram declares ‘Islamic state’ in northern Nigeria
Militant group Boko Haram has said it has set up an Islamic state in the towns and villages it has seized in north-eastern Nigeria.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was speaking in a video released to congratulate his fighters for seizing the town of Gwoza earlier this month.
It is not clear if Mr Shekau has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria.
Nigeria’s army has rejected the claim as “empty”.
Thousands of people have been killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, since 2009 when Boko Haram began its insurgency.
Gwoza, which had 265,000 residents in the last census, is the biggest town under Boko Haram control.
Thousands have fled Gwoza – these people are now living in a school
It has raised its flags over the palace of the Emir of Gwoza, the town’s traditional ruler, residents say.
“Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic state,” Mr Shekau said in the 52-minute video.
It controls several areas, mostly in Borno state where the group was launched, but also in neighbouring Yobe state.
The video also shows about 20 men in civilian clothes apparently being shot dead.
Nigeria’s military spokesman Chris Olukolade responded with a statement dismissing the declaration.
“The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nigerian state is still intact,” he said.
Who are Boko Haram?
Founded in 2002
Initially focused on opposing Western education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
Launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state
Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria – but also attacks on police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
Some three million people affected
Declared terrorist group by US in 2013
Who are Boko Haram?
Profile: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau
In his previous video, released in July, Mr Shekau congratulated the Islamic State (IS) for its advances in Iraq and Syria but did not say whether they were allies – there is no evidence that the two groups have been working together.
IS has seized much of northern Iraq in recent months, leading the US to launch air strikes.
Last week, the militants sparked global outrage by beheading US journalist James Foley.
Gwoza is not far from Chibok, where Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in April.
Nigeria’s police say it is still looking for 35 police officers who went missing after Boko Haram attacked a police academy in Liman Kara, near Gwoza last week.
Residents say the militants seized the college but it is unclear who now controls it.
Nigeria declared a state of emergency in three north-eastern states in 2013 but the insurgency has continued and even intensified.