Controversy trails Purported Death of Boko Haram Leader

Nigeria’s military high command may have distanced itself from Monday’s announcement of the purported death of the leader of the violent Islamic sect Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau.

According to Lt.-Col. Sagir Musa, spokesman for the military Joint Task Force (JTF) battling the sect, Shekau received serious gunshot wounds during a gun duel at the Sambisa Forest in northern Nigeria on 30 June, which might have led to his death.

“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,” he said in a statement.

However, the private Punch newspaper on Wednesday quoted sources at the Defence Headquarters as saying the announcement was not authorised by the military high command.

“We were discussing with the CDS (Chief of Defence Staff) on what steps to take on this issue; there was also need to send troops to the Camerounian community to verify this claim, conduct a comprehensive search of the area and then conduct a DNA if possible.

“They (JTF) sent a report to the CDS, and the DHQ (Defence Headquarters) said that there was need to verify the claim because they themselves were not sure; this thing happened long ago in June; and they are releasing the information suddenly. The CDS did not authorise the release on this information on Shekau; the DHQ was still trying to verify it…,” the paper quoted the source as saying.

Previous claims that the sect leader had been killed turned out to be false.