From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Minister of Defence Minister, Brig. Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (retd.) disclosed to newsmen, yesterday, that Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, is alive.
The Nigerian Army hadboasted severally of having killed Shekau.
Regardless, Dan-Ali said Shekau is hiding in Sambisa forest in Borno and has been disguising with masks, to evade arrest.
He, however, said the military is hot on his trail and, and assured that, just as it took the United States of America seven years to kill Osama Bin Laden, Shekau will soon be captured.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, on December 24, 2016, announced the military had succeeded in liberating Sambisa forest, one of Boko Haram’s hideouts.
The army had briefed him on how the Boko Haram’s stronghold in Sambisa, now known as Camp Zero, was captured.
But, Shekau, in a video posted shortly after, said he and his members were safe and had not been flushed out of anywhere.
The Boko Haram leader urged the Federal Government to stop telling lies to the public in the 25-minute video.
However, speaking to State House Correspondents, after briefing the president on the security situation in the country, yesterday, Dan-Ali insisted the notorious religious sect has been degraded.
“If you have been to Sambisa, you will know that we have dominated the whole stronghold where they (Boko Haram) used to be. Camp Zero, where their spiritual headquarters used to be was destroyed and is now occupied by our armed forces.
“I believe it’s just a matter of time; it took America about seven to 10 years to get Bin Laden, so we will get Shekau as soon as possible,” the minister assured.
Asked why it’s been difficult arresting Shekau, the minister replied: “The spiritual headquarters has been ransacked and vandalised; he (Shekau) is on the run and may be hiding in one of the enclaves in Sambisa forest. We are using the place as a training area and, soon, the army engineers will open the roads. We shall be patrolling and ransacking that forest for the whereabouts of Shekau.
“Let me tell you, categorically, these insurgents have a way of wearing masks; there may be many Shekaus, but, we are looking for the real one. He has been using mask to give the impression that he has been killed, so, we will relax, but, we will not relax until we find him.”
Dan-Ali also told newsmen his discussion with president Buhari was mainly on security and added that he is impressed with the performance of the armed forces, so far.
He also said the issue of how to return Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their homes, so they can resume normal businesses, was also discussed
“The security situation is something you cannot get 100 percent, and remember that Nigeria has been having turbulences for a very long time. We are trying to manage it and we are trying to make it solvable so Nigerians will have peace and tranquillity to do their normal businesses.
“The more effort we put in, the more Nigeria gets safer. We are doing our best and we have also requested for more, in terms of equipment, and I can categorically tell you that the Nigeria Armed forces have turned to professional armed forces.”
He also said the last time the armed forces had training on small arms competition was almost 11 years ago.
On whether government will join Borno in declaring December 22 celebration day, the minister replied: “It is a local celebration for the capture of Camp Zero because, hitherto, they were never at rest when they are encircled by insurgents. So, I believe they have the right to celebrate.”