Boko Haram leader ‘wounded’: Buhari

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

ABUJA — Nige­rian Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari said on Sun­day that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is “wounded”, in his first com­ments on mil­i­tary claims that the ji­hadi leader was in­jured in an at­tack.

Nige­ria’s armed forces said last Tues­day that Shekau had been wounded in an air strike on Boko Haram’s for­est strong­hold, but re­leased no fur­ther state­ment or ev­i­dence con­firm­ing his con­di­tion.

“We learnt that in an air strike by the Nige­ria Air Force he was wounded,” Buhari said in a state­ment from Nairobi, where he was at­tend­ing a devel­op­ment con­fer­ence.

“In­deed their top hi­er­ar­chy and lower cadre have a prob­lem,” Buhari said. “They are not hold­ing any ter­ri­tory and they have split to small groups at­tack­ing soft tar­gets.”

Buhari said that Shekau had been “edged out” of the group, adding cre­dence to claims that Is­lamic State (IS)-ap­pointed Abu Musab al-Bar­nawi was now in charge of the in­sur­gency.

Signs of a power strug­gle in the top ech­e­lons of the ji­hadi group ap­peared ear­lier this month when Shekau re­leased a video deny­ing he had been ousted.

Bar­nawi is be­lieved to be the 22-year-old son of Boko Haram founder Mo­hammed Yusuf and was an­nounced as the group’s leader in Au­gust by ISIS.

Buhari made his re­marks from Nairobi this week­end where he was at­tend­ing the Tokyo In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence on African Devel­op­ment, a sum­mit de­signed to boost ties be­tween Africa and Ja­pan.

The pres­i­dent also said he “is pre­pared to talk to bona fide lead­ers of Boko Haram” to ne­go­ti­ate the re­lease of 218 Chi­bok girls cap­tured by the mil­i­tants in 2014.

Boko Haram has rav­aged north­east Nige­ria in its quest to cre­ate a fun­da­men­tal­ist Is­lamic state, killing over 20 000 peo­ple and dis­plac­ing 2.6 mil­lion from their homes.

Turn­ing to an­other ma­jor se­cu­rity con­cern in Nige­ria, Buhari threat­ened mil­i­tants sab­o­tag­ing oil in­fra­struc­ture in the south­ern swamp­lands of the Niger delta.

“We will deal with them as we dealt with Boko Haram if they refuse to talk to us,” Buhari said.

The coun­try’s pe­tro­leum min­is­ter has said that as a re­sult of the on­go­ing at­tacks Nige­ria’s oil out­put has dropped 23 per­cent from last year to 1.5 mil­lion bar­rels per day, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg News.

Groups in­clud­ing the Niger Delta Avengers are de­mand­ing a greater share of oil rev­enues, po­lit­i­cal au­ton­omy, and in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment in the south­ern river­lands where de­spite mas­sive oil wealth peo­ple still strug­gle to ac­cess ba­sic health care and ed­u­ca­tion.

Buhari said his govern­ment was still in talks with some of the mil­i­tants but said there was no “cease­fire”, de­spite an an­nounce­ment by the Avengers last week. — AFP

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