Is Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau dead?

Operatives of the Joint Task Force in Maiduguri on Monday said the leader of dreaded Boko Haram, Ibrahim Shekau may have been killed in a gun battle with its forces.

If the death of the Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the insurgent Boko Haram, is eventually confirmed, it would signify a major victory for the Nigerian military who have battled the sect for over two years.

Mr. Shekau had been the second in command to the spiritual leader of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in 2009 by the police after he was arrested and handed over to them by the military.

Initial reports suggest that Mr. Shekau himself was killed alongside his boss, but such report was proven wrong after he re-emerged and took responsibility for most of the sect’s attacks.

There were also reports of his killing by security agents in Kano after an exchange of fire in a Kano neighbourhood in 2011.

Mr. Shekau is thought to be in his early forties and was born in Shekau Village in Yobe State. He is believed to be a more hardline Islamist than Mr. Yusuf, the sect’s founder.

A statement by the spokesperson of the Force, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa said “Intelligence report available to the Joint Task Force Operation RESTORE ORDER revealed that Abubakur Shekau, the most dreaded and wanted Boko Haram Terrorists leader may have died”.

It added that 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 to 3 August, 2013”.

The JTF further said the “The recent video released on 13 August, 20013 by the purported sect leader was dramatized by an imposter to hoodwink the sect members to continue with the terrorism and to deceive the undiscerning minds”.

The JTF however wishes to appeal to the sect members to lay down their arms and embrace the federal government’s offer for dialogue.