25 August 2013

Nigeria: Exclusive - the Last Days of Shekau, Boko Haram Leader

Photo: NNTV
Alleged Boko Haram leader Imam Abubakar Shekau.

Abuja — The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, may have died a traumatic death.

That was the picture security forces painted at the weekend. From the vast forests of Sambisa, Borno State, where he was reportedly shot and sustained injuries in June during a raid on his hideout by military forces, he was said to have been taken to Mali for treatment by the Boko Haram top hierarchy.

In Mali, Sunday Vanguard learnt that Shekau's situation soon grew worse. After consultations, the leadership of the Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means, "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad", decided to move their boss to Cameroun.

"It was in Cameroun that the situation got out of hand.

"There, all known medical support that could be provided within acceptable underground limits was mustered. But that was where he gave up the ghost", one of the security sources said.

The source added that a recent video recording allegedly released by the sect showing Shekau calling the bluff of the US, Britain and France and claiming that nobody could stop the group was a smokescreen to paint the picture that he was still alive and in control. Indeed, the spectre of hopelessness was initially discarded as news which first filtered out of the sect's camp suggested that Shekau could actually survive.

To buttress that air of invincibility, the publicized recording had to be released to members of the public.

Sunday Vanguard was told that "if the sect members had had access to modern medical facilities, Shekau may have survived. But the leadership of Boko Haram was also sure that the military was all out to get Shekau and, therefore, could not risk even a disguised Shekau being taken to an hospital", a source disclosed.

"In fact as I am talking to you now, we have it on good authority that a close confidant of his (Shekau) who was mandated to follow him and ensure he received proper treatment has been killed by members of the group for allowing the information of his death to get out", the source said.

Aside killing the confidant (aide), Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that there was an intelligence report indicating that his followers hurriedly buried his remains, in an attempt to hide the death and paint a picture of invincibility around him so that they would continue to use it to hoodwink sect members.

Sources said the death of Shekau and the likely response of Boko Haram who may be mobilizing to hit back (revenge) through bombings, kidnapping and killing of innocent citizens played a role in the decision of the Federal Government to approve the establishment of a new army division for the North-East, 7 Division, with headquarters in Maiduguri.

Meanwhile, sustained attacks in some parts of the North-East, the latest of which was the massacre of 44 persons in a village in Borno State, on Friday, believed to have been carried out by Boko Haram, lent credence to the claim that a new leader may be in command of the sect.

Shekau's deputy in the Boko Haram hierachy, Momodu Bama, was reportedly killed by the Joint Task Force, during an encounter with troops around the Bama corridor on August 4.

Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Chris Olukolade, in a statement announcing the killing, penultimate week, said Bama had been leading attacks against troops and civilians in the communities of Yobe and Adamawa states.

According to him, Momodu, said to be a specialist in manning anti-aircraft guns, was known to be vicious and heartless with a penchant for personally executing his victims. Bama was among the most wanted terrorists with a N25million bounty placed on his head.

The defence spokesman said others that died in the operation include Bama's father, Alhaji Abatcha Flatari, who was also said to be one of the spiritual leaders of the Islamist group. 17 other insurgents reportedly lost their lives in the encounter, while 24 were arrested.

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