Some residents of Maiduguri, the Borno State, have doubted the alleged killing of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, during a clash with the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP).
Information gathered has it that Shekau died on the evening of Wednesday, 19th May 2021.
He was said to have died following the invasion of his Sambisa forest stronghold by fighters of ISWAP loyal to the Islamic State (ISIS).
ISWAP was a part of the Boko Haram group before it broke away in 2016 over ideological differences and pledged allegiance to ISIS – an international terrorist organization.
It was gathered that the ISWAP fighters stormed Shekau’s stronghold on Wednesday with multiple gun trucks and overpowered the Boko Haram fighters including Shekau’s bodyguards leading to the death of fighters on both sides.
After overpowering the Boko Haram fighters, Shekau was said to have surrendered and engaged in a long meeting with the ISWAP fighters.
He was given the option to voluntarily relinquish power and order his fighters in other areas to declare allegiance to ISWAP’s authority.
However, Shekau according to sources had other ideas as instead of issuing a statement as expected, he blew up a secret suicide vest he had on him, killing himself and many others present during the negotiation.
But residents of Maiduguri who still doubt the reports of Shekau’s killing stated that they would need proof of facts regarding the claims that the Boko Haram leader was actually killed or killed himself with others.
According to residents who spoke with Daily Post in Maiduguri, Shekau had remained a ghost as he had been reported killed several times.
“Soldiers had claimed they killed Shekau, they even showed his picture tied to a tree when he was captured in Konduga and subsequently killed. But days later, Shekau was alive and healthy. He even went ahead to attack and sack many villages, made videos about it and warned those claiming to have killed him. Now the story is coming back again just as it was told before. My take is that proof is what we need to believe because we have since become doubting Thomases here,” Laletu Usman, a resident of Bullumkuttu in Maiduguri said.
“Boko Haram Spiritual Leader, Abubakar Ibn Al-Shakawi also known as Shekau is dead. Perhaps this is the sixth time he will be pronounced dead only to resurface again. He was killed in Dikwa, Bama, Kukawa, Marte, Damboa, Konduga and the latest about him was that he killed himself and others when he chose to become a human bomb. For me, these are stories. We need proofs” Mohammed Sani another resident said.
“On May 19, 2021(Wednesday) at about 4:00pm the news began to filter about Shekau’s death. However, no one could rush into reporting such news given the background that he has been said to have died many times even with a proof of death and how he was killed. This is also the question on the lips of people and residents within Maiduguri about the last claim on Wednesday.” Said Ahmed Shehu, a journalist.
It was gathered that Abu Albarnawi, the son of Mohammed Yusuf, who escaped execution in the hands of Shekau fled Sambisa forest in 2016 and had swore allegiance to ISIS.
He was then anointed by ISIS to lead the ISWAP as a fraction of the ISIS terror group operating in West Africa. With the international connection from the Islamic State, ISWAP grew in power and might but internal wrangling led to the temporary intervention by ISIS where Abu Albarnawi was asked to step aside.
“His loyalty and obedience to the leadership and course of ISIS opened the way for him to be reinstated as the new leader.” A source with access to the group revealed. “Also Abu Albarnawi knows the modus operandi of the Boko Haram faction under Shekau’s leadership and still commands respect among top commanders within the ranks who are still Shekau’s lieutenants.”
According to our source, clashes between ISWAP fighters and Boko Haram terrorists in Abadam last year over some of the wives of terrorists commanders abducted by ISWAP fighters during a raid sparked the new and ugly relationship between the two terror groups.
“Although ISIS had long made several attempts to win over Shekau, they were also not comfortable with his operations. They believe some of his doctrines are un-Islamic because they claimed he had derailed in many ways and so, they actually wanted to take leadership from him. Shekau understood their antics and would not give in to their deceptive approaches. They tried to use some of his commanders who were lured into believing them but Shekau does not take chances and at the slightest doubt, he executes some of his commanders romancing with ISWAP.
“The fight between the two terror groups in Abadam sometime last year over women belonging to the militants on the Boko Haram faction side opened a new opportunity for ISIS to cash in and planned the dethronement of Shekau. This was also the reason behind ISIS decision to bring back Abu Albarnawi having been very close to Shekau in the past and understands his mode of operations. Some say Albarnawi is also good at sniffing with accuracy of knowing the bearing around Sambisa forest,” a source with information about the terror group told Daily Post.