Nigeria: Boko Haram Leader, Shekau Feared Killed

Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram Islamist sect, has reportedly died from gunshot wounds he received during one of the recent clashes with the military.

According to a statement issued and signed by the spokesman of the Joint Task Force (JTF), Lt Col. Sagir Musa, Shekau had sustained a mortal wound on June 30 in the northeast Sambisa forest from the military’s superior arsenals. But the statement was not detailed about the incident, especially the whereabouts of his remains.

According to Sagir, “Shekau died of gunshot wound received in an encounter with the JTF troops in one of their camps at Sambisa forest on 30 June 2013. Shekau was mortally wounded in the encounter and was sneaked into Amitchide – a border community in Cameroun – for treatment which he never recovered.

“It is greatly believed that Shekau might have died between 25 July and 3 August, 2013. He was reported to have masterminded the kidnap of seven French citizens and that of the elder statesman Alhaji (Dr) 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. The JTF wishes to appeal to the sect members to lay down their arms and embrace the Federal Government’s offer for dialogue.”

A security source explained that Shekau was hurriedly rushed away from the war front with the mortal multiple wounds sustained to a Cameroonian village for treatment where he eventually gave up the ghost.

All efforts made to get official confirmation from the Defence Headquarters were fruitless as the director of information, Brig. Gen Chris Olukolade, could not pick his call or respond to the text messages sent to his phone.

But a highly placed security source said, “We are still waiting for official signals from our officers in Maiduguri or any of the neighbouring states. We have been hearing that unofficial report from different sources.”

Last week, the military reported that MomoduBama, the second-in-command to Shekau, had fallen to the superior power of its force.

The news was broken by the Defence Headquarters in a statement issued and signed by its spokesman, Brigadier General Chris Olukolade, who reiterated the commitment of the military to put an end to terrorism in the country as soon as possible.

“As troops intensify pursuit of terrorists who have been unleashing mayhem in 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 N25million bounty already placed on his head,” the Defence Headquarters stated.

According to the military, others that died in the operation include Bama’s father, Alhaji Abatcha Flatari, who is also one of the spiritual guiding lights of the outlawed terrorist group; 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.”

But the statement was silent on the whereabouts of the fire-spitting Shekau who has vowed to continue fighting the war against the security forces until his vision to enthrone Sharia law on the northern part of the country becomes a reality.

The last heard of Shekau was his recently released video in which he claimed responsibility for the recent attacks in different Borno and Yobe communities including Malumfatori, Bama, Biu, Konduga, Gamboru Ngala, Gwoza, and Damaturu where no fewer than 100 people including some soldiers were killed.

The JTF denied that it was Shekau. It said it was someone else who wanted to delude the sect members to continue with the terrorism and to deceive the insensible minds.

The JTF explained this development at a ceremony marking its handing over to Boyona Battalion for it to continue from where the JTF stopped operations in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

Emergency rule in Adamawa justified – Air Chief

Chief of the air staff Air Marshall Alex Sabundu Badeh disclosed yesterday in Yola that the emergency rule imposed on the state by the federal government has saved the state from being annexed by insurgents.

Badeh said sequel to the imposition of the emergency rule on the state, it was on the verge of being completely taken over by insurgents as virtually most of the local government areas of the state had been routed by insurgents.

He said all the insinuations being bandied by some elements in the state that there was an ulterior motive behind the emergency rule in the state were lies by those who did not want peace to prevail in the state or those who wanted to hide their shortcomings.

Badeh said the true security situation in the state before the imposition of the emergency rule was gory as virtually all the LGAs of the state were on the verge of being taken over by insurgents, which the federal government could not tolerate. “Before the emergency rule was declared on the state, many local governments had been routed by these insurgents. Do we have to wait till the state capital is taken over by these insurgents before we act?” he queried.

He disclosed that virtually all the key LGAs of the state which include Mubi, Madagali, Ganye, Mayo Belwa, Hong, Song were at various times being viciously attacked by the insurgents, which warranted the federal government to wield the big stick aimed at ensuring that the state was secured from insurgents. He said with the emergency rule the state has been adequately secured.

He further said that following the resumption of military activities in the state, the 75 Strike Force has resumed flying activities in the state in order to secure the state. “Following a lull in Air Force operations, we have now resumed full flying activities as a result of which we are constantly inundated by the sound of freedom,” he added.

Boko Haram: Air Force to deploy robots in securing border towns

CAS Marshall Badeh also stated that there were plans to carry out air strikes and aerial surveillance as the Air Force continues launching its offensive against the Boko Haram insurgents, just as he vowed to deploy all available resources of the Nigerian Air Force to assert Nigeria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by crushing all insurgents.

Badeh was also emphatic that, with the recently developed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for surveillance and intelligence gathering, a lot would be achieved in fighting terrorism, as the new device would greatly enhance the success of security agents.

He added that UAV is a robot capable of detecting and detonating bombs from a distance, and the equipment would reduce risks posed to bomb squads personnel as they try to carry out their duties.

Speaking to journalists in Yola, Badeh said the Air Force was ready to do anything within the ambit of the law to ensure that the country was well secured in line with the aspirations of President Jonathan following the emergency rule in three north-eastern states.

He said, “We will never rest on our oars till we fulfil our mandate of securing the territorial boundaries of the nation. We shall continue to carry out border surveillance and air strikes as everything we need for the success of the mission has been provided by the federal government.”

The air chief said very soon the atmosphere will be inclement for terrorists as Alpha jets have already started bombarding all terrorists camps which lead to the Sambista forest, a notorious enclave of the Boko Haram to be secured by Operation Boyona.

“The Air Force has done a great job in routing the insurgents via Operation Boyona; our fighters have since cleared Sambista forest. And to consolidate our achievements, I have submitted a budget proposal for the purchase of helicopters for border surveillance and patrols. It’s our hope that the National Assembly will assent to it, for speedy takeoff of the border air operations,” he noted.