Military dismisses claim on proclamation of Islamic Caliphate in Borno

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) dismissed the declaration by Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, that Gwoza, a Borno town seized by the insurgents earlier this month, had been placed under an Islamic caliphate, stating that the move was “false” and “empty”.

In the 52-minute video obtained by AFP, Shekau said: “Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in (the town of) Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate.”

In the video, Shekau voiced support for the leader of the Islamic State militants Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who in late June declared himself “the caliph” and “leader of Muslims everywhere”.

Shekau, who has been designated a global terrorist by the United States and sanctioned by the UN Security Council, was shown in the video wearing military fatigues, with a Kalashnikov rifle strapped to his body.

He alternated between Arabic and the Hausa language that is dominant in the region.

He was pictured standing in front of three SUVs and flanked by four fighters, who were masked and armed. It was not clear when or where the video was filmed.

The United Nations humanitarian office (OCHA) earlier this month confirmed reports that Gwoza was under rebel control.

Boko Haram is also believed to be in control of other areas near Gwoza in southern Borno, as well as large swathes of territory in northern Borno and at least one town in neighbouring Yobe State.

However, the Nigerian military yesterday debunked the claim by Shekau that Gwoza had been placed under an Islamic caliphate.

DHQ, on its twitter handle @DefenceInfoNG, stated that the move, similar to the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (IS) was false, adding, “The claim is empty.”

It assured the public that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nigerian state was still intact, adding, “Any group of terrorists laying claim to any portion of the country will not be allowed to get away with the expression of delusion and crime.

“Appropriate military operations to secure that area from the activities of the bandits is still ongoing.”

The military had recently recaptured Damboa, another town in Borno State, which was seized by the terrorists last month.