Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, said in a YouTube message yesterday that the sect's spokesman, Abu Qaqa, was still alive.
The Joint Task Force had claimed recently that it killed two commanders of the Boko Haram sect suspected to be the spokesman of the group, Abu Qaqa and Isah Abuja, the second in command in the spiritual leadership of the sect.
In a short video in Hausa language posted online, Shekau claimed that 10 wives of Boko Haram members are currently being detained by Nigerian officials, an action he described as "demeaning" and threatened a round of reprisals on wives of government officials.
In the video, the Boko Haram leader also threatened violence over a recent anti-Islam video which denigrates Prophet Mohammed (SAW).
Two weeks ago, Nigeria troops claimed they had killed some senior commanders of Boko Haram near Kano and arrested others. One of those reportedly killed was Qaqa.
In February, the JTF also claimed it had arrested Qaqa, but the Boko Haram leadership denied the announcement, insisting that the man under arrest was not Qaqa but Abu Darda, who was identified as the head of the group's enlightenment committee.
"Qaqa" continued to speak for the group until last month when he was said to have been killed or arrested. Nothing has been heard from him since then, and his status remains unclear.
Yesterday's announcement by Shekau is another challenge to the intelligence-management abilities of the Nigerian government and its Joint Task Force, which has been conducting unprecedented operations in some states in the north in the past two weeks.
Reacting to the claim by the sect that its spokesperson, Abu Qaqa is still alive, the State Security Service (SSS) spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar, said: "The SSS has no business with Boko Haram. It is only Boko Haram that knows whether or not Abu Qaqa is still alive. I don't want to talk about this on phone."
All pleas on her to allow this reporter to meet with her to throw more light on the matter proved abortive.