Sunday, September 20, 2015 2:26 am
Boko Haram’s elusive leader, Abubakar Shekau has issued another audio recording, debunking the various claims by Nigeria’s military that militants of the sect are in disarray and surrendering to the Nigerian military.
The French news agency, the AFP, reported Saturday about the audio on a day the army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman said troops destroyed more rebel enclaves and camps in the restive state of Borno, which has been worst hit by the six-year Islamist insurgency.
“The fight against the terrorists in the northeast is gaining successful momentum, with most of the camps falling to the Federal might,” he said in a statement.
A total of 62 people were rescued from around the town of Gwoza, which last year Boko Haram declared the headquarters of its caliphate but which it lost control of in March. The army even opened Friday a mixed school for children in the town, as a show of confidence that it has eliminated the Boko Haram threat in the area.
Some 77 men, women and children, most of them “haggard, dejected and obviously malnourished”, also arrived in the town of Bama on Saturday, Usman said.
One man picked up said he had his right hand cut off by militants in their Sambisa Forest stronghold in Borno last year, he said, adding that eight Boko Haram suspects surrendered to troops.
Shekau has not been seen on video since February and until an audio message last month had not spoken since March, when he proclaimed Boko Haram’s allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group.
His absence sparked fresh rumours about whether he was still alive or had been deposed as leader, with other videos this year fronted by an unknown rebel under the name Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).
Shekau said in a 25-minute recording in Hausa and Arabic via social media: “They (the military) lied that they have confiscated our arms, that we have been chased out of our territories, that we are in disarray.
“We are alive, I am alive, this is my voice, more audible than it was before. This is Shekau.”
He added: “Buhari is a liar and has deceived you. The army spokesman is also lying. He and his footsoldiers always run helter-skelter whenever we come face to face with them…
“Buhari, you once claimed that you will crush us in three months. How can you crush us?”
Shekau directly refers to IS group leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, to whom he says he is “loyal and subservient”.
He also namechecks IS spokesman Abu-Mohammed al-Adnani and sends “greetings to the faithful in Yemen”, where there is also an IS “affiliate”