Residents of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital have expressed doubts over the alleged killing of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, saying they would need proof of facts regarding the claims that Shekau was actually killed or killed himself with others during a clash with Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP as being reported.
According to residents who spoke with DAILY POST in Maiduguri, Shekau had remained a ghost as he had been reported killed several times.
“Soldiers had claimed they killed Shekau, they even showed his picture tied to a tree when he was captured in Konduga and subsequently killed. But days later, Shekau was alive and healthy. He even went ahead to attack and sack many villages, made videos about it and warned those claiming to have killed him. Now the story is coming back again just as it was told before. My take is that proof is what we need to believe because we have since become doubting Thomases here.” Laletu Usman, a resident of Bullumkuttu in Maiduguri told DAILY POST.
“Boko Haram Spiritual Leader, Abubakar Ibn Al-Shakawi also known as Shekau is dead. Perhaps this is the sixth time he will be pronounced dead only to resurface again. He was killed in Dikwa, Bama, Kukawa, Marte, Damboa, Konduga and the latest about him was that he killed himself and others when he chose to become a human bomb. For me, these are stories. We need proofs” Mohammed Sani said.
“On May 19, 2021(Wednesday) at about 4:00pm the news began to filter about Shekau’s death. However, no one could rush into reporting such news given the background that he has been said to have died many times even with a proof of death and how he was killed. This is also the question on the lips of people and residents within Maiduguri about the last claim on Wednesday.” Said Ahmed Shehu, a journalist.
The military authorities are yet to make or release statements to the effect. DAILY Post gathered that the security operatives are still gathering information about the claims which has been reported in several newspapers.
“I do not think there is the need to conclude on this yet. At the appropriate time it shall be made known. If they said Boko Haram and ISWAP fighters fought in the Sambisa forest, we may ask where in the Sambisa forest? Because our military is everywhere in the Sambisa forest. Our Air Force have been hovering around the Sambisa forest, they should be able to communicate what they saw happening on ground. How did the massage come about? These are questions we should begin to ask ourselves. I am not denying that all these could happen but I still have some reservations.” Dr. Isah Mamman said.
According to the DON, the atmosphere in Maiduguri remains the same whether Abubakar Shekau is dead or still alive. He said Borno state and indeed northeast Nigeria has been at war since 2009 when Muhammed Yusuf was killed.
“It was the controversy surrounding Mohammed Yusuf’s death that gave birth to Abubakar Shekau and what makes people think that the same controversy surrounding the death of Abubakar Shekau if indeed he died will bring peace to Borno or Yobe state? The reports are saying he blew himself and killed other top commanders of ISWAP. If that is what actually happened, it means more disaster because there is going to be more fighting among his commanders, and a revenge mission against the ISWAP will follow and that means more conflict for Borno and the northeast,” he added.
DAILY POST gathered that Abu Albarnawi, the son of Mohammed Yusuf, who escaped execution in the hands of Shekau fled Sambisa forest in 2016 and had swore allegiance to ISIS. He was then anointed by ISIS to lead the ISWAP as a fraction of the ISIS terror group operating in West Africa. With the international connection from the Islamic State, ISWAP grew in power and might but internal wrangling led to the temporary intervention by ISIS where Abu Albarnawi was asked to step aside.
“His loyalty and obedience to the leadership and course of ISIS opened the way for him to be reinstated as the new leader.” A source with access to the group revealed. “Also Abu Albarnawi knows the modus operandi of the Boko Haram faction under Shekau’s leadership and still commands respect among top commanders within the ranks who are still Shekau’s lieutenants.”
According to our source, clashes between ISWAP fighters and Boko Haram terrorists in Abadam last year over some of the wives of terrorists commanders abducted by ISWAP fighters during a raid sparked the new and ugly relationship between the two terror groups.
“Although ISIS had long made several attempts to win over Shekau, they were also not comfortable with his operations. They believe some of his doctrines are un-Islamic because they claimed he had derailed in many ways and so, they actually wanted to take leadership from him. Shekau understood their antics and would not give in to their deceptive approaches. They tried to use some of his commanders who were lured into believing them but Shekau does not take chances and at the slightest doubt, he executes some of his commanders romancing with ISWAP.
“The fight between the two terror groups in Abadam sometime last year over women belonging to the militants on the Boko Haram faction side opened a new opportunity for ISIS to cash in and planned the dethronement of Shekau. This was also the reason behind ISIS decision to bring back Abu Albarnawi having been very close to Shekau in the past and understands his mode of operations. Some say Albarnawi is also good at sniffing with accuracy of knowing the bearing around Sambisa forest,” A source with information about the terror group told DAILY POST in Maiduguri.
But residents have remained doubtful and await proofs of Shekau’s death.