Forty days to get Shekau

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Tukur Bu­ratai re­cently gave march­ing or­ders to the Theatre Com­man­der of Op­er­a­tion Lafiya Dole in the North-East, Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim At­tahiru to pro­duce Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau “dead or alive” within 40 days. Di­rec­tor of Army Pub­lic Re­la­tions Brig.-Gen. Sani Kukasheka Us­man said the army chief di­rected At­tahiru to use every­thing in his ar­se­nal to seize the ter­ror­ist leader, whose ne­far­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties had led to the death of over 100,000 peo­ple and the dis­place­ment of mil­lions of others. The theatre com­mand is to smoke out Shekau wher­ever he is hid­ing in Nige­ria, Bu­ratai di­rected.

Gen­eral Bu­ratai’s order to get Shekau is a kind of re­minder be­cause many or­ders, di­rec­tives and procla­ma­tions have been made on the elusive Shekau. This order probably be­came nec­es­sary be­cause Boko Haram has re­cently stepped up bomb at­tacks and am­bushes in Maiduguri and parts of Borno State that are still in­fested with in­sur­gents. The mil­i­tary’s duty be­yond killing or cap­tur­ing Shekau is to bring the in­sur­gency to an end once and for all.

Since 2009 Shekau had been de­clared killed or fa­tally wounded sev­eral times. Mil­i­tary au­thor­i­ties once said that Boko Haram was us­ing look-alike fighters to im­per­son­ate the sup­pos­edly dead Shekau. There were ru­mours of Shekau’s death in 2011 along­side over 1000 fighters but he resur­faced in a video in July 2010. He was again re­port­edly killed in Kano in 2011 but he reap­peared in a video taunt­ing Nige­rian and world lead­ers. In 2013 the Nige­rian Army announced that Shekau was mor­tally wounded in an en­counter in Sam­bisa for­est but was sneaked into Amitchide, a bor­der com­mu­nity in Cameroon for treat­ment and that he ul­ti­mately died. Shekau later ap­peared in an­other video on Au­gust 4, 2013.

In 2014, Nige­rian and Cameroo­nian au­thor­i­ties pro­vided “video ev­i­dence” that a Boko Haram com­man­der named Bashir Muhammed, who “dou­bled as Shekau and took up the man­tle of lead­er­ship af­ter the real Shekau died in un­clear cir­cum­stances in 2013,” was killed in Kon­duga in Borno State but Shekau resur­faced again in an­other video de­bunk­ing the claims. It was amidst th­ese claims and counter claims that the United States in 2013 de­clared Shekau wanted and placed a $7m bounty on his head. Ear­lier in Novem­ber 2012, the de­funct Joint Task Force Op­er­a­tion (JTF) in Maiduguri placed a bounty of N50 mil­lion on Shekau’s head. Bu­ratai’s order this time around looks like a fi­nal push to get the Boko Haram leader.

A few days af­ter this order was given, we recorded the very sad event of the death of 69 sol­diers and mem­bers of an oil ex­plo­ration team in a Boko Haram am­bush in eastern Borno State. It was pur­port­edly launched by the fac­tion led by Abu Mus’ab Bar­nawy, son of the late Boko Haram founder Mo­hammed Yusuf. The at­tack was unar­guably the blood­i­est this year as it led to the death of many sol­diers, pro­fes­sors and sup­port­ing staff from the Univer­sity of Maiduguri as well as vig­i­lantes from the oil pro­duc­ing com­mu­ni­ties of Gu­bio, Magumeri, Monguno, Kukawa, Abadam, Guza­mala and Mob­bar. Three Univer­sity of Maiduguri staff mem­bers kid­napped dur­ing the am­bush were later pa­raded in a video, making ap­peals to Nige­rian au­thor­i­ties to yield to the de­mands of the ter­ror­ists to se­cure their res­cue. In July alone, Boko Haram ter­ror­ists killed over 150 peo­ple and raided many com­mu­ni­ties.

No won­der that Act­ing Pres­i­dent Yemi Os­in­bajo asked mil­i­tary ser­vice chiefs to re­lo­cate to Maiduguri. Min­is­ter of De­fence Brig Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali [re­tired] said the ser­vice chiefs are to move back to com­mand cen­tre with a view to con­sol­i­dat­ing the gains be­ing recorded in the bat­tle fields. He said the meet­ing agreed to get more sur­veil­lance de­vices, cam­eras and other vi­tal se­cu­rity gad­gets that will be able to see dis­tant at­tack­ers coming to the po­si­tion of Nige­rian troops.

We urge the au­thor­i­ties to give the mil­i­tary every­thing it needs to en­able our troops to bring this deadly in­sur­gency to an end.

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