he Nigerian Army has declared Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau wanted having earlier declared him dead on three different occasions. The Army, in a statement by Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonishakin, on Monday, declared the leader of the terrorist group wanted alongside 54 others for various ‘’terror acts”. The Nigerian army first declared him dead in 2013 few weeks after the United States placed a $7 million bounty on his head. The then spokesman for the 7th division of the Nigerian Army, Sagir Musa, told BBC in an interview that Shekau was believed to have been killed when Nigerian Army raided a Boko Haram base in Sambissa, Borno state.
“Shekau was mortally wounded in the encounter and was sneaked into Amitchide – a border community in Cameroon for treatment…It is greatly believed that Shekau may have died between 25 July to 3 August 2013,” said Sagir Musa.
The army, a year later in September 2014, released a statement reiterating its claim that Shekau had been killed in 2013, while adding that an impostor who had been appearing in the videos as Shekau and 3 others had also been killed in a raid. The statement of the Nigerian Army was corroborated by their Cameroonian counterpart who, however, wanted to take credit for the killing of Shekau.
The 99 lives of Abubakar Shekau
On August 23 this year, the Army again, while squashing its earlier claims of killing Shekau, claimedShekau was “fatally wounded on his shoulders.”
A week after the statement was released by Army spokesman, Sani Usman, the commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Lucky Irabor reiterated the claim that Shekau had indeed been killed.
“I can confirm to you that the original Shekau was killed, the second Shekau was killed, and the man presenting himself as Shekau, I can also confirm to you, [a] few days ago was wounded,” Irabor said.
This claim was questioned in an article by Ventures Africa after mixed reactions trailed the statement with many questioning the use of English and truth-functionality of the statement. The Nigerian Army has now come out, in a move that squashes its earlier claims, to declare the embattled terrorist Shekau wanted. This means either one thing or the other. One, the army indeed thought it had killed Shekau all along but only recently learned he is alive. That reason would jeopardise the entire intelligence unit of the Nigeria army as statements are not released based on thoughts. The other thing being that the army knew all along that Shekau was alive and kept on lying about his death to make us think that it was winning the war against the insurgents. That being the case, people that had been following the war against the terrorists all along now have valid reasons to doubt the claims of the Nigeria Army, the latest being that Boko Haram is defeated despite having an unknown number of soldiers missing in action and having commanders and soldiers killed. The much defeated Boko Haram on paper staged its fifth attack on the Nigerian Army in two weeks on Friday. It is crystal clear with news of its recent attacks that Boko Haram is far from defeated and as such, Nigerian Army should desist from counting their chicks before they hatch.
Shekau had on each occasion come out to deny the claims of the Nigerian Army that he was dead. The act of Nigerian Army declaring him wanted only shows that indeed Shekau is alive.
The embattled Shekau who was reported to have been deposed as the leader of Boko Haram after he broke ties with ISIS due to reported lack of support recently released an audio threatening American president-elect, Donald Trump, of an attack if he dares meddle in the war with the Nigerian army. The Islamic State had since confirmed Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the new leader of the sect, a claim which was rejected by Shekau himself in a audio released.