4 August 2016

Nigeria: Govt Reacts to Report of New Boko Haram Leadership

Photo: Al-Jazeera
Boko Haram.

The Nigerian government has dismissed a report that the extremist group, Boko Haram, has a new leader.

The government said the report was a mere "propaganda" by the "defeated terrorist organization".

"The Nigerian Government has described as cheap propaganda the report that ISIS has appointed a new leader for Boko Haram, saying it is too late to employ such tactics to revive the defeated Nigerian terrorist organization," a statement released by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said.

The statement was signed by Segun Adeyemi, the minister's spokesperson.

The report in the 41st edition of ISIS' Al-Naba magazine, published Tuesday, carried an interview with Abu Musab al-Barnawi, referenced as Boko Haram's "governor" for West Africa, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. SITE monitors militant jihadist media.

The report made no mention of Abubakar Shekau, who was previously known as the leader of the sect.

Mr. Shekau was last seen in a Boko Haram propaganda video in 2015, while Mr. al-Barnawi had been cited in a January 2015 video as a Boko Haram spokesman.

The Nigerian military had earlier said the report was of no effect to its operations against the deadly group.

The Director of Defence Information, DHQ, Rabe Abubakar, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday that the military remained focused on its operation in the north east.

He said the announcement of a new leader for the group was only aimed at seeking attention and relevance.

"As far as we are concerned, what Boko Haram or their cohorts are doing is of no relevance to our operations against them.

"We are just focused on clearing the remnants of the insurgents that are scattered around. What they are doing is to seek relevance and to tell the world that they are still around whereas they have been decimated.

"Their latest move is the antics of a fading group and I believe that in the shortest time they will be history," Mr. Abubakar, a Brig. Gen., said.

In the statement from the ministry of information, the government called on Nigerians to ignore the ISIS report.

"Don't believe the cheap propaganda by the global terrorist group ISIS, which has reportedly named a new leader for Boko Haram. Our gallant military has put Boko Haram on the run and nothing will bring back the terrorists, not even the wishful thinking by ISIS," the statement said.

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