One Mahamat Daoud was given as the new leader of the insurgents by Chadian President Idriss Derby, to replace Shekau who the Nigerian military claimed was dead. Shekau has not also been seen in recent video released by Boko Haram.
President Derby had at a news conference to commemorate Chad’s 55th Independence anniversary at N’Djamena, the capital last Wednesday said the group now has a new leader.
“There is someone apparently called Mahamat Daoud who is said to have replaced Abubakar Shekau and wants to negotiate with the Nigerian government,” he said at the press conference though he did not disclose his source of the information.
However, a Chadian who resides at Maiduguri, the Borno State capital and has been following Boko Haram activities in his home-country in recent times told Sunday Sun the man named as the new Boko Haram helmsman is ‘very likely’ a Chadian.
“Mahamat is no doubt a Chadian. If the name given by our president is his real identity, then he’s a Chadian.
I think it will be easier to properly identify him if Boko Haram shows him in their next video,” the source said. Another source that has a fair knowledge and identities of most Boko Haram leaders especially from 2008 also told Sunday Sun that the new leader has not been known.
“This name is strange to us. No such name has ever featured among Boko Haram leaders.
He may be those who joined later from Chad, or could be one of the contacts with other members outside Nigeria.
“From the spelling of his name, he’s certainly not a Borno person. His name is spelt differently from ours: you can’t place him as an Hausa-Fulani person, Kanuri, Shuwa or Margi, neither can you get such names among the Babrus or the Gwoza’s numerous tribes,” the source maintained.
A University of Maiduguri lecturer, Dr Mohammed Gujbawu who has also been engaged in research work on Boko Haram said though the group draws its membership from different states in the north, names like Mahamat Daoud have semblance with Chadians.
“The leadership of Boko Haram cut across regions and states especially in the north, the name of the said new leaders appears to be that of Chad,” Gujbawu, who is also the Head of Department of Mass Communication, said.
He however faulted Derby’s pronouncement, saying it was curious. “Why should he be the one to announce Boko Haram new leader? What is his interest and what is his real role in this Boko Haram thing?” he queried.
He said Nigerian authority ought to investigate the Chadian leader as his role in failed negotiation with a faction of Boko Haram early this year called for concern.
He also insisted Boko Haram known leader Shekau was dead. “From all indications, especially with this supposed new leader, Shekau is no longer alive” he said.
A military source while assessing the impulse of President Derby’s announcement on the counter-insurgency operation and regional military cooperation said it “could help weaken the ranks and file of Boko Haram as it may fuel leadership tussle and subsequently affect Boko Haram’s supposed cohesion.”