The leader of Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau has denied claims by the Chadian president, Idriss Deby that he had been killed or ousted as leader of the militant group in an audio recording released yesterday and attributed to him by security experts.
“I am still alive and I am not dead. And I will not die until my time appointed by Allah is up,” Abubakar Shekau said in an eight-minute Hausa language message released on social media, according to AFP.
London Telegraph quoted Shekau as saying in the video that Chadian president is a “hypocrite” and a “tyrant”. “It is indeed all over the global media of infidels that I am dead or that I am sick and incapacitated and have lost influence in the affairs of religion,” he said in the recording released on social media.
“It should be understood that this is false. This is indeed a lie. If it were true, my voice wouldn’t have been heard, now that I am speaking.”
Deby had on August 12, at a press conference to mark his country’s 55th independence anniversary, said Shekau was dead and a new leader Mahamat Daoud has been appointed.
“There is someone apparently called Mahamat Daoud who is said to have replaced Abubakar Shekau and wants to negotiate with the Nigerian government,” Deby said.
“Gratitude be to Allah and with his help, I have not disappeared. I am still alive and I am not dead. And I will not die until my time appointed by Allah is up,” Shekau said in the message.
The SITE Intelligence Group verified the authenticity of the message, and an AFP correspondent with extensive experience of reporting Boko Haram said it exactly resembled Shekau’s voice in previous recordings, London Telegraph reported.
A Nigerian journalist who has been close to the sect also confirmed that it is Shekau who spoke in the audio message.
Ahmad Salkida made a confirmation on twitter saying Shekau is alive and still presiding over the affairs of the notorious group. He also dismissed Deby’s claims that a new leader has replaced Shekau.
Salkida urged the Federal Government not to take Deby’s claims with seriousness as he accused the Chadian president of misleading former president, Goodluck Jonathan into entering a botched peace deal with the sect. “Idris Deby is wrong now as before when he deceived former president Jonathan in phantom negotiation.”
Shekau is alive and leads ISWAP or BH,” he wrote on Twitter. But Salkida had earlier predicted that Shekau could be replaced as a result of the Islamic State deal. In recent times, Boko Haram has been releasing videos without Shekau’s appearance. This, of course is an unusual development. But Shekau has refuted the reports of his demise on three separate occasions that security forces claimed to have silenced him. In a video he released in October, Shekau taunted the military saying he has “one soul”.
“Here I am, alive. I will only die the day Allah takes my breath. I am running our… Islamic caliphate and administering sharia punishments,” he had said. “Nothing will kill me until my days are over… I’m still alive. Some people asked you if Shekau has two souls. No, I have one soul, by Allah.
It is propaganda that is prevalent. I have one soul. I’m an Islamic student. I’m the Islamic student whose seminary you burnt… I’m not dead.” Shekau took control of the group after its founder, Muhammad Yusuf, died in police custody in July 2009.
Meanwhile, Cameroon’s president has vowed to send 2,450 troops to join a regional army to fight Boko Haram, nearly tripling his initial pledge. President Paul Biya announced the new troop total in a statement Friday night.
At a meeting in Cameroon in February, Nigeria and the neighboring countries of Chad, Niger and Benin agreed to deploy around 8,700 troops against Boko Haram, which became an affiliate of the Islamic State group earlier this year.
Cameroon initially pledged to contribute 750 troops. Biya said Friday the increase followed recommendations from a June summit meeting of regional leaders. Deployment of the force has been delayed for lack of funds, but Chad President Idriss Deby said earlier this week it would be deployed within days. The force is to be based in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena. Gen. Valere Nka, who was serving as military attaché to Cameroon’s high commission in Abuja, has been appointed second-in-command of the force, Biya said. -The Sun