The mother of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has spoken to the Voice of America (VOA), saying she has not seen him for 15 years.
"I don't know if he's [Shekau's] alive or dead. I don't know. It's only God who knows. For 15 years I haven't seen him," Falmata Abubakar told the VOA in her village of Shekau in Yobe State.
Shekau's father was a local district imam before passing away a few years ago, the VOA reported.
In what is believed to be her first interview with journalists, Falmata said she does not know where her son is hiding, adding that her son left Shekau as a boy to continue his Islamic education in Maiduguri.
At some point in his studies, Shekau, according to his mother, met Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram, who condemned Western education as sinful. Falmata says her son was brainwashed.
"Since Shekau met with Mohammed Yusuf, I didn't see him again," she told VOA.
"Yes, he's my son and every mother loves her son, but we have different characters," she said. "He brought a lot of problem to many people. Where can I meet him to tell him that these things he is doing is very bad? I am praying for God to show him the good way."
Falmata says she can never curse her son, but he has become someone who she doesn't recognize anymore.
"He just took his own character and went away," she said. "This is not the character I gave him. I don't know what this type of behaviour is. It's only God who knows."
Daily Trust reports that Shekau, who used to release videos from his hideout, has not been heard in a long while.