From Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
The factional leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, was conspicuously missing in the new video released by the insurgents’ group because he was nursing the ‘fatal’ wound he sustained recently, a source who has been following the insurgents’ video since 2014 said.
A new video released by Boko Haram last Wednesday showed a crowd of insurgents purportedly observing the Eid Kabir without their leader, Shekau, who the military claimed was fatally wounded during an air raid on August 19.
“The air interdiction took place on Friday, August 19, 2016, while the terrorists were performing Friday rituals at Taye village, Gombale general area within Sambisa forest, Borno State. The Boko Haram commanders confirmed dead include Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu and Malam Hamman, amongst others, while their leader, the so-called “Abubakar Shekau,” is believed to be fatally wounded on his shoulders,” the military said.
Sunday Sun gathered from a source that had link with the insurgents in the past that the jihadists’ leader might be ill. “From all indications and from my checks, the man is ill. He was not also in the audio released by the group in the first week of August. All is not well with him,” the source said.
Commenting on the observed absence of Shekau, the media coordinator of the counter-insurgency operation in the northeast, Operation Lafiya Dole, Air Commodore Dele Alonge said the video confirmed claims by the military that Shekau is indisposed. “For the past one month, how many of the Boko Haram terrorists have seen either the first Shekau, second or the person cloning him? We have said earlier and we maintained that Shekau or the man cloning him is fatally wounded from our troops’ bombardment. That was why he wasn’t in their video,” he told Sunday Sun reporter.
He also said the video was “a mere propaganda device to sustain their terror act,” adding, “We won’t give them space.”
But some residents of Maiduguri warned the authorities and the military not to take the insurgents threat for granted. A religious leader who preferred anonymity urged the military not to view the threat as mere propaganda, noting that the terrorists group may have used the president’s name to divert the attention of the security to cause havoc somewhere.
“We shouldn’t treat the Boko Haram threat to capture the president alive as mere propaganda as the military want us believe. The threat should be taken seriously because of its implication.
Boko Haram may be issuing the threat to direct the attention and energy of our security to the protection of the presidential villa and other senior government officials only to target vulnerable areas,” the cleric said.
Shekau was once reported killed by the Nigerian army in 2009.
The army also said the acerbic leader of the jihadists had died between July 25 and August 3 following raids on his hideout by soldiers in Sambisa Forest, where he was fatally wounded.
But he reappeared some months later in videos, threatening to attack public places and towns. The threat was later carried out by the terrorists as they seized many communities in Borno and Adamawa states. In 2014, the army also claimed it killed a man purporting to be Shekau (dubbed Shekau II by the Nigerian media) in another battle at Konduga between September 12 and 14. That claim generated reactions from some Nigerians.