I’m still in charge, says Shekau
AN audio message has emerged,purportedly from Islamist militant group, Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau, in which he denies he has been replaced.
According to the BBC’s Africa editor, Mary Harper, Shekau, in the message addressed to the leader of the Islamic State militant group to whom Boko Haram has pledged allegianc , said he was still in command.
He had not featured in the group’s recent videos, prompting speculation he had been killed or incapacitated.
Meanwhile, barely three days after President Muhammadu Buhari directed the Service Chiefs to end Boko Haram insurgency in the country, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) yesterday bombarded and destroyed over three dozen bunkers of the terrorists in Sambisa Forest.
A top military source yesterday in Maiduguri, said the co-ordinated joint military operations in the forest will continue and may extend to all Boko Haram “training camps and cells” in the three affected states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
Last week the Chadian president, Idriss Deby said he had been replaced and was no longer in charge , a statement Shekau described as
“I am alive,” he said, adding: “I will only die when the time appointed by Allah comes.”
The eight-minute-long recording mocked a recent statement by President Muhammadu Buhari that Boko Haram would be eliminated within three months.
Shekau took over as the group’s leader after its founder, Muhammad Yusuf, died in police custody in July 2009.
Under his leadership Boko Haram has become more radical and has carried out more killings.
In numerous videos, Mr Shekau has taunted the Nigerian authorities, celebrating the group’s violent acts including the abduction of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls in April 2014.
Last month, Buhari said he would be willing to negotiate with the Boko Haram leadership for the release of the Chibok girls , depending on the credibility of those saying they represented the group.
According to the BBC, a previous prisoner-swap attempt ended in failure.
Although momentum is gathering for a concerted regional offensive against the group, Boko Haram continues to carry out horrific attacks, not only in Nigeria but in its neighbours too.