Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau yesterday appeared on video for the first time in more than a year, rejecting rumours about his death but appearing to signal his time in charge of the jihadist group may be coming to an end.
There was no indication of when or where the video was shot and the military said it was trying to determine its authenticity. Shekau took over the leadership of Boko Haram in 2009 after the death of its founder Mohammed Yusuf.
He was last heard from in March 2015, when an audio message attributed to him was released pledging Boko Haram’s allegiance to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), after which it rebranded itself as the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
In the poor-quality eight-minute video that contained none of the defiant bluster, taunts and denunciation of political leaders of previous videos and will likely be interpreted as an admission of defeat, the dejected-looking Shekau declared in the Hausa language: “For me the end has come. This is a message of greeting and joy for you to see my face. For me the end has come.
“This is my desire: that whoever sees this will hear nothing but greetings between me and you. Only Allah knows the rest, as you believed (and) as you submitted. For me the end has come.
“This is only the message I want to send to you for you to understand that this is certainly I. This is why I did this. May Allah protect us so that no hypocrite stands between us. May Allah protect us from the devil so that he doesn’t achieve his evil among us.”
But in a swift reaction, the Defence Head Quarters (DHQ), yesterday, said the video is a ploy for attack during the Easter and urged Nigerians to be security alert.
The Director Defence Information, Brigadier-General Abubakar Rabe, said Shekau’s antics or his replica in the said video couldn’t fool the military as it was determined to carry out its final offensive in its ongoing counter terrorism war. He urged Nigerians not to be carried away by the video clips, but to be extra vigilant and security conscious especially during the Easter celebration.
Rabe who gave the warning in a statement issued in Abuja, said the video clips could be another trick by the terrorists to keep innocent citizen off their current security alertness to maximize casualties if attacked.
Rabe called on the public to report all suspicious movement and objects to the nearest security agency.
He said: “Members of the public are advised not to be carried away by the video clips, but to be extra vigilant and be security conscious at all times during Easter celebration and beyond”.
“The DHQ is also reassuring the good citizens of our great country that all captives under the coffer of the Boko Haram terrorists, would regain their freedom with the ongoing military’s final offensive against the terrorists,” the statement added. (Daily Sun)