Several times, the Nigerian military has confirmed the death of the leader of the terrorist group known as Boko Haram. But, after each confirmation, he seems to make a mockery of it by posting videos to confirm that the news is wrong.
On Thursday, Major General Lucky Irabor, Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, which is Nigeria’s military operation that was set up to battle Boko Haram, insisted that the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau had died.
It probably will not be the last time such a story makes the headlines. He insisted that the individual originally identified as Shekau has indeed been killed: “I can confirm to you that the real Abubakar Shekau was killed, the second Shekau was killed. But regarding the man presenting himself as Shekau, I can also confirm that he was wounded a few days ago.”
Further, he said that the army does not make unfounded statements.
The General said the Nigerian troops fighting an insurgency in the northeast will continue the military operations until the last terrorist is taken out. He also mentioned that there had been divisions among Boko Haram partisans as a result of the constant pressure put on them by the army.
According to him, “They released videos to prove that they are still active, but that’s just a facade.”
Shekau has been killed or fatally wounded no fewer than three times by Nigerian security forces but, he always manages to ‘resurrect’ himself. He appears to be ‘the cat with nine lives.’
News of his death has emerged more than three times and each time, he reappears days or months later in video or audio recordings claiming to be alive and well. Shekau, who is believed to have been born between 1965 and 1975 in Yobe state, took over as the leader of Boko Haram after the founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was paraded and then executed in front of a crowd by Nigerian security forces.
Under his leadership, Boko Haram has killed thousands of people and displaced more than 2 million people.
The minute Shekau is killed, another Shekau is emerging, leaving one to wonder how many Shekau’s there are. Will Shekau ever die?
In the past, the military has said that Boko Haram was using look-alike fighters to impersonate the, supposedly, dead Shekau.
It is difficult to say whether Shekau is dead or alive or if the terrorist sect is using, what may be, a rotating cast of “Shekaus.” The Nigerian military has claimed to have killed Shekau on different occasions, though it has never been verified and has often come under question.
Shekau’s death has been rumored in the years 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, and, recently, this year a report emerged that Shekau was “fatally wounded ” during an unprecedented and spectacular air raid.
“The Boko Haram terrorist commanders confirmed dead included Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu and Malam Hamman, while their leader, the so-called ‘Abubakar Shekau’, is believed to have fatally wounded his shoulders. Several other terrorists were also wounded,” said a spokesman for the army.