14 June 2018

Nigeria: Mother of Boko Haram Leader, Abubakar Shekau, Speaks

Photo: Chika Oduah/VOA
Falmata Abubakar is the mother Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the terrorist organization, Boko Haram. She granted her first media interview to VOA, saying she has not seen her son in 15 years.

The mother of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, has given what appears to be her first media interview.

Falmata Abubakar spoke with the Hausa Service of the Voice of America, VOA, in the village of Shekau, Yobe state.

In a report published Thursday, VOA said elders and leader of the village took its team to the woman.

The report also said Mr Shekau's late father was the Imam of the village Mosque before his death.

Ms Abubakar said she had no idea where her son was or his situation.

"I don't know whether he is dead or alive, only God knows, I have not seen him in the last 15 years," she said.

Residents of the village said they always hid the identity of their village for fear of being associated with the Boko Haram leader.

Mr Shekau is notorious for his leadership of the deadly group responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

He has personally carried out the execution of several people including members of the sect he leads. He has also carried out many raids leading to death and destruction of many towns and villages across the north eastern part of Nigeria.

His mother said Mr Shekau left the village for Maiduguri, the Borno state capital as a young boy in search of Islamic knowledge. She said he was an "almajiri boy" who walks around the streets of Maiduguri looking for food.

She said it was in the course of seeking Islamic knowledge that her son came into contact with the founder of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf. She said the late Boko Haram leader was the one who indoctrinated her son.

"I did not set my eyes on him since he came into contact with Mohammed Yusuf," she said.

"I know he is my son, and everyone knows a mother's love for her son, but our attitude to life is different," she said.

She also said "He has put so many people in serious difficulty, I pray that God guides him right".

Ms Falmata said she will not curse his son, saying "he has chosen a path different from the one we put him on, only God knows what he has become now".

Mr Shekau took leadership of the group after the death of its founder, Mr Yusuf, who was killed in police custody.

The Nigerian military has repeatedly claimed to have killed Mr Shekau. Those claims have turned out false.

The Boko Haram leader is on the Nigerian government's list of most wanted terrorists. The United States government also has a bounty on him.

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