Barely two weeks after the military announced that it has killed the Boko Haram commander, who had been posing as the sect leader, Abubakar Shekau, the Islamic sect yesterday released a new video of Abubakar Shekau, who claimed he was alive and challenged the military to produce evidence he was killed.
The Defence Headquarters, in its immediate reaction, however waved aside the purported new video of Abubakar Shekau, insisting that the impostor, Mohammed Bashir, who had been posing as Shekau was killed by Nigerian Soldiers in Konduga on September 17, as corroborated by still photographs, video evidence, as well as terrorists, who were either captured or surrendered.
Distinct resemblance with previous Shekaus
It is not clear when the footages in the new video were recorded but the man that appeared in the 36 minutes video had all the features of the Shekau that appeared in most of the previous videos released by the sect, including his looks, beard, pattern of dressing and speaking among others.
“I hereby put to lie the claim that I was killed,” Shekau said, amidst thunderous shout of Allahu Akbar “Allah is great” from his well armed lieutenants.
He claimed that his fighters shot down the Alpha Jet (NAF 466) belonging to the Nigerian Air Force which was reported missing by the Defence Headquarters.
The aircraft, with two pilots on board, reportedly left Yola at about 10:45am on 12th September 2014 on a routine operational mission but did not return. One of the pilots was shown in the latest video stating that their aircraft was brought down by “fighters of the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah.” The wreckage of the aircraft with the insignia of the Nigerian Air Force was also shown.
The pilot, who said he does not know the where about of his colleague was thereafter assaulted with an axe by an executioner who dressed in military fatigue.
In the video, Shekau said he had gone far in ensuring that Sharia Law was strictly observed in his “Islamic Caliphate” and showed footages in which a man “convicted of adultery” was stoned to death.
The right hand of another man accused of “stealing” was chopped off while an unmarried young man and a young lady “convicted of fornication” were given 100 lashes each.
Shekau boastfully said, “I challenge you, I challenge you. You even said I was killed. If you kill me, does that mean you kill (the) religion? You are not honest. You have no proof, you have nothing to say.
“Here I’m, alive. I will only die the day Allah takes my breath. The wish of Obama will not kill me, the wish of Francois Hollande will not kill me, the wish of Benjamin Natanyahu will not kill me, the wish of Ban-ki Moon will not kill me, the wish of Queen Elizabeth will not kill me, the wish of the infidels of the world will not kill me, not to talk of Jonathan, not to talk of Kashim (Shettima), not to talk of Bra-Bra (Yobe State governor Ibrahim Geidam). Nothing will kill me until my days are over. Do whatever you want to do. If you think what I’m doing is not the truth, even if you don’t fight me I will crumble,” he said.
The Defence headquarters however in a statement posted on its website, said, “As far as we are concerned, the individual who was appearing in video and claiming to be the leader of the terrorist group was killed in the Kondunga battle in September. The resemblance of the corpse and that of the eccentric character was incontrovertible. His identity was equally corroborated by people who knew him before we announced his death.”
The statement titled ‘The Purported Shekau Video in Circulation is as follows; “The Defence Headquarters is studying the claims made in the video purportedly released by the terrorists showing their leader Abubakar Shekau as dismissing his death.
“From immediate observation and what some online news outlets claimed to have seen, the video did not indicate when it was shot neither did it show any proof of life or currency such as screen time or date. The video also did not make any reference to anything that has happened since the impostor’s reported death.
“It is also noteworthy that the air plane said to be mentioned in the video had been missing before he was killed. It should not surprise anybody if the terrorists decide to manipulate pictures, clone another Shekau or upload a pre-recorded video all in a bid to prove invincible.
“While still conducting thorough investigation into the new claims in the purported video, the military promised that justice will be served to whoever bears that name or designation and whoever engages in act.
Anger in the military
Also, independent investigations by PRNigeria revealed that there is anger within the military hierarchy at the propensity of some news media especially foreign based ones to fall for the antics of Boko Haram propaganda.
“This is because in view of glaring evidences shown in still and video photographs coupled with oral testimonies of surrendering and captured terrorists, some media outfits still help in the spread of propaganda that Bashir Mohammed alias Abubakar Shekau is still alive.
A top source in Abuja however told PRNigeria that the new video purportedly released by “Abubakar Shekau” was still being carefully studied but urged Nigerians to continue to have confidence in the ability of their military to contain terrorism in parts of the country but keep strict vigilance on their environment so as to report suspicious activities to appropriate authorities.
Shekau’s death stalls Chibok girls’ freedom—insider source
Although the nation has celebrated his demise, the death of Shekau will not necessarily end insurgency in the North, a Boko Haram insider source has told Vanguard.
The source, who has been deeply involved in series of negotiations to free the Chibok girls, confirmed to the paper that the killing of Shekau by the military had also stalled negotiations for the release of the 219 Chibok school girls being holed up by the sect.
The source described the botched negotiations between the government and the sect leadership as having broken down irretrievably.
The source said, “I think this particular phase of the negotiations has irretrievably collapsed. It is sad. Boko Haram had internal challenges that complicated their positions and negotiations cannot proceed in such circumstances.
“Shekau or his impostor’s death is a significant blow to the terrorists, but the war is far from over.
Asked to give an idea when the girls would be freed, the source explained that he did not know but quickly warned against the use of force to free them.
“We cannot assume that securing the girls will come through force alone. There must be room for a negotiated release. And so also is the bigger question of ending the insurgency.
“I am confident we can win the battle against terrorist, because if there is one country that can defeat a war against islamic terrorism it is Nigeria and our military can.
“The issue is really how to achieve peace and harmony for the affected communities that Boko Haram is currently drawing its recruits from. If we do not begin engaging them in time for a negotiated end, then a military victory alone will never restore peace, which is crucial for reconciliation, demobilisation, reconciliation and development.”
But he made it clear that the involvement of northern leaders was crucial in ending the cycle of violence being perpetrated by the sect in the region.
He said: “Only the northern political and religious elite can save Nigeria of this scourge because whether they admit it or not, it was created with the complicity of some amongst them and to serve interests they espoused politically, even if most of them would want to distance themselves from the group today.
The insider admitted that President Jonathan’s refusal to use force to clear the militants was actually disarming the sect which had wanted to use its tactic to plunge the country into a religious war that would have been more disastrous if they had succeeded.
“Ironically, what most people blame President Jonathan for, is indeed what has saved Nigeria from even greater calamity. President Jonathan’s patience, tenacity and slowness to anger, unlike his predecessors, is largely responsible for holding the country together.
“The larger intention of Boko Haram was to draw the entire country into a religious war after growing in strength and intimidating its initial funders, backers and political benefactors who are muslims and predominantly from the north .
“Watching Boko Haram’s most deadly terrorist acts, its effective propaganda machine and dealing directly with representatives of the group during recent negotiations for the release of the Chibok girls, I remain steadfast in my conviction that most of the group’s financial and material support comes from within Nigeria, even if channelled through contacts abroad.
It was learnt from another source that the breakdown of the deal on the Chibok girls was responsible for President Goodluck Jonathan’s silence on the crucial mater during his Independence Day broadcast on Wednesday morning.
The discussion on the girls’ release had broken down two weeks ago when Boko Haram representatives insisted on the release of 18 of its commanders being held in various prisons by the government in exchange for only 30 out of the 219 girls.