August 20, 2013

Boko Haram leader, Shekau feared killed

Boko Haram leader, Shekau feared killed

Abubakar Shekau

By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North; Kingsley Omonobi, Umar Yusuf  & Ndahi Marama
ABUJA—Most wanted Boko Haram Leader, Abubakar Shekau, might have been fatally shot and died from his wounds during a gun duel with the Nigerian Army, the military said, yesterday.

Shekau was initially reported wounded in combat with Nigerian soldiers while his second in command, Momodu Bama, was killed last week in a fierce battle that lasted days in the mountains of Borno.

The Joint Task Force, Operation Restore Order, yesterday, quoted intelligence reports suggesting that the sect leader might have died of gunshot wounds sustained in confrontation with the soldiers.

A statement released by the spokesman of the JTF, Lt Col. Sagir Musa, said the terrorist leader sustained serious gunshot wounds in an encounter with the JTF troops in one of their camps at SambisaForest on June 30, 2013.

Abubakar Shekau

Abubakar Shekau

According to the statement, “intelligence reports available to the Joint Task Force revealed that Abubakar Shekau, the most dreaded and wanted Boko Haram terrorist leader may have died. He died of gunshot wounds received in an encounter with the JTF troops in one of their camps at SambisaForest on June 30, 2013. Shekau was mortally wounded in the encounter and was sneaked into Amitchide — a border community in Cameroun for treatment, from which he never recovered.

“It is greatly believed that Shekau might have died between July 25 and August 3, 2013. He was reported to have masterminded the kidnap of the seven French citizens and that of the elder statesman, Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno in addition to many murders of Islamic clerics in Northern Nigeria. He was also responsible for bombings of many places of worship and public buildings, including Police and United Nations Headquarters in Abuja.

Recent video was fake — JTF

‘The recent video released on August 13, 2013 by the purported sect leader was dramatized by an impostor to hoodwink the sect members to continue with the terrorism and to deceive the undiscerning minds.

“The JTF wishes to appeal to the sect members to lay down their arms and embrace the Federal Government’s offer of dialogue”.

The death of Shekau came barely five days after his deputy, Bama, was slain in combat with security forces currently encamped in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states following the declaration of a state of emergency by the Federal Government to rout insurgents from those states.

Shortly after confirming the death of Bama, the Defence Headquarters released a statement to prove that the terrorists were not invincible as wrongly held in some quarters.

The Defence Headquarters said: “As troops intensify pursuit of terrorists, who have been unleashing mayhem on Borno and Yobe communities, the death of Momodu Bama, said to be the second-in-command to the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, has been confirmed by other arrested terrorists. This followed encounters with the terrorists around the Bama corridor.

“Momodu Bama has been personally leading the attacks against troops and innocent citizens in the communities of Yobe and Adamawa. A specialist in manning the anti-aircraft guns of the group, he is known to be vicious and heartless with a penchant for personally slaughtering and executing his victims. Momodu Bama has been a most wanted terrorist with a N25 million bounty already placed on his head.”

According to the military, others who died in the operation included Bama’s father, Alhaji Abatcha Flatari, who is also one of the spiritual guiding lights of the outlawed terrorist group. The Defence Headquarters further added that 17 other terrorists also lost their lives in the encounter, while 24 were arrested.

“The troops are continuing the pursuit of the terrorists while intensifying aggressive aerial and land patrols to ensure better security cover for the communities especially in the two states,” the statement also stated.

Boko Haram informant arrested

Meanwhile, as the newly created Army Division Headquarters in Maiduguri took over from Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Restore Order, yesterday to rid Borno State of Boko Haram sect insurgents, Vigilance Youths Group (BVYG) popularly addressed as ‘Civilian JTF’ and the Military Joint Task Force (JTF) have arrested a top Boko Haram informant (name withheld) on Baban Layi road in Maiduguri metropolis last Sunday, recovering incriminating documents from him.

Baban Layi located in the heart of Maiduguri is a commercial area mostly dominated by Igbo traders in the past, but during the heat of the Boko Haram crisis, most of them relocated their businesses out of Borno, leaving only few with other indigenous traders patronizing the place.

According to JTF sources, yesterday in Maiduguri, five other Boko Haram suspects were also arrested by the vigilance youths in Gwange and Kulolori/Shuwari wards off Damaboa road areas of the metropolis.

One of the youths, Isa Yahaya also said that the two suspects arrested in Kulolori ward, were confirmed members of the Islamist sect, as the youths have their photographs and other identities which show that they were bonafide members of the sect. The other three arrested in Gwange area, were picked up in a tricycle in a “stop and search” operations by the youths on Lagos Street.

Confirming the incident, chairman of BVYG, Abubakar Mallum told newsmen that the arrested top Boko Haram informant, claimed to be a merchant of  sacks in Maiduguri and an influential member of the Boko Haram sect who had been involved in coordinating series of attacks in Maiduguri and its environs.

He said: “We have evidence before arresting this Bagco sacks dealer by our boys yesterday on Baban Layin. He also claimed that he is second in command to Shekau, but this could be a diversionary tactic, but we handed him over to JTF for further investigation.”

He said the hunt for and arrest of fleeing Boko Haram sect members in Maiduguri is a continuous process, until the terrorists are flushed out of all the towns and villages of BornoState.

Air Force to carry out air strikes

Meantime, the Nigerian  Air Force is to carry out air strikes and surveillance  in its offensive operations against the Boko Haram insurgents, the Chief of Air Staff has confirmed.

The Chief  of Air Staff,  Air Marshal Alex S. Badeh, told newsmen in Yola, yesterday, that the Air Force  was ready to do everything to achieve the mission as directed by President Goodluck Jonathan, while declaring the emergency rule.

He added that the Air Force would go the extra mile to assert Nigeria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by crushing the insurgents.

“Whatever it will take to achieve the mission will be done, air strike inclusive. We will carry out border surveillance and even air strike. Everything needed for the mission is being  mobilised, men, material and all resources.

“We will do anything to achieve the mission,” Badeh said.