Nigerian Army misses own deadline to capture Boko Haram leader, Shekau

Nigerian Army
Nigerian Army

The Nigerian Army has missed a self-set 40-day deadline to capture the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, dead or alive.

The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, handed down the order on July 21 to the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Ibrahim Attahiru.

Mr. Buratai, a lieutenant general, tasked Mr. Attahiru, a major general, to employ every weapon available in his arsenal “to smoke out Shekau wherever he is hiding in Nigeria”, a statement from the army said.

That deadline elapsed Thursday, August 31.

Mr. Buratai instead commended Mr. Attahiru, his sector commanders and all troops of Operation Lafiya Dole for “pursuing the COAS directive of capturing the purported Boko Haram terrorists leader”, an army statement released Friday said.

“Although the leader has not been captured, the COAS noted with satisfaction the zeal and determination with which the directive was pursued,” the statement signed by Mr. Usman, a brigadier general, said.

The army chief approved an extension to the deadline, and applauded the commanders for “coming very close to achieving the directive”.

Mr. Buratai congratulated the commander for “eliminating five key leaders of the terrorists group that were the closest associates and right hand men of the terrorists group leader”.

“Within the same period, 82 of the Boko Haram terrorists were eliminated. Therefore, the Commander was very close to achieving the directive,” the statement said.

“The Theatre Commander has asked for the extension of the deadline and it has been granted by the COAS.

“Given deadlines and extensions are strategic means of focusing troops’ efforts in the theatre. Currently the main thrust of the operations is the decapitation of all the remaining terrorists factions within the Nigerian territory.

“With this feat achieved the relevance of Shekau is no longer of any consequence. The people of the NE and indeed all Nigerians are enjoined to be more confident of the Nigerian troops and go about their normal activities.”

The military has several times claimed to have killed Mr. Shekau, only for the Boko Haram leader to later show up in videos mocking either the military or the nation’s top officials.

On August 23, 2016, Mr. Usman himself had issued a statement announcing that Mr. Shekau was inflicted with “fatal injury” in a major air strike on Boko Haram’s location in the dreaded Sambisa Forest.

The statement said at the time that the bombardment was carried out while Mr. Shekau was leading his group in performing the Friday prayers at a secret location called Tayye in the heart of the vast forest.

The military has repeatedly claimed credit for killing Mr. Shekau. But the sect denounced the claims each time saying its leader remained alive.

The military however insisted that the original Mr Shekau had long been killed, and that the so-called Abubakar Shekau said to be alive was a made-up character.

On March 28 this year, the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, had a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, after which he reassured Nigerians that the army would soon apprehend Mr. Shekau.

“If you have had the opportunity to go to Sambisa (forest in Borno), you will know that Boko Haram has been defeated, go and see what is happening in Sambisa.

“We have dominated the whole stronghold where they used to be, there is where we call ‘camp zairo’ where their spiritual and their strong headquarters that they were using as communication base was destroyed and as at the same time occupied by our men of the armed forces.

“So, I believe it’s just a matter of time, it took America about seven to 10 years to get Bin Laden so we will get Shekau as soon as possible.

“I told you before now, the spiritual headquarters has been ransacked and vandalized. He (Shekau) is on the run, so he may be hiding in one of the enclaves of Sambisa forest that we are dominating.

“We have opened up the place; we are using it as a training area whereby the army engineers will open roads. We shall be patrolling and be ransacking that forest for the whereabouts of Shekau,’’ he said.


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  • 0tile

    If they really want to capture him they will, but as the devil would have it an attack on Boko Haram is an attack on Nigerian Muslims. Case closed.

    • Alhaji

      Plus attack on Boko Haram is attack on Buhari

      • 0tile

        That goes without saying.

    • Liberty

      This man, na wa for u o!

    • Alhaji

      No, attack on Boko Haram is attack on Buhari and northern muslims. Hence Shekau must not be touched. Very soon Buhari will reward him with another $millions when election is approaching..

  • Intrepid

    Deadline to capture a Terrorist is an exposition of professional mediocrity.


  • Remi

    One apparent area of weakness of the Nigerian Army (NA) is at
    gathering and applying actionable intelligence and effective counterintelligence
    within. Capturing Shekau is about intelligence gathering and tightening up counterintelligence within the NA. It is not about
    issuing counterproductive ultimatums, which merely tips off the subject (and
    his collaborators within) about the NA’s intents and plans. Secrecy, utmost Secrecy
    is of the essence in, & is required for,
    the success of, this operation.

  • Frank Bassey

    They should set new deadline, with fresh BUDGET.

    • 0tile

      Budget ke? Of course that is what it is all about.

  • Dan maikoko

    One will normally expect that such an announcement (of a deadline for Shekau’s capture) will not be made until the army is sure that he is captured or surrounded in a particular location. Targeting an individual is difficult especially if he deliberately avoids modern communications. The Americans tried to get Usama but at the end never got him.

    • 0tile

      Don’t lie. They got him. They killed him. Osama ya mutu yan kari.

      • Dan maikoko

        Ponder this facts. Why was there no picture of Bin Laden dead or alive even when the leader of Navy seals team 6 (God bless his soul) who “captured and killed” Bin laden said they were wearing video cameras and were streaming live to the white house?
        Why was Bin Laden hurriedly buried at sea even when a former CIA agent made the claim that burying him in a known location will serve the war on terror as the temptation for his top disciples to visit him will be irresistible. Secondly rank and file terrorists will have closure and therefore become demoralized on seeing his body as opposed to the current rumor that he is still alive.
        Why did the entire navy seals team six perish in a helicopter accident weeks after one of them accidentally told a journalist Usama was not in the compound they raided ?
        They showed Saddam dead in a leaked video, they showed Ghaddafi as well why not show usama? Is there any bigger prize ?

        • Liberty

          My broda, US is not on Nigeria! I believe Usama Bn Ladin has indeed been killed.
          However, I strongly suspects that they are keeping his remains. I doubt their claim of disposing of Usama’s remains in the high sea.

          • Dan maikoko

            Its good you doubt. When things don’t make sense to you then they most probably are not true.
            Check out this info as well to improve on your doubts.
            In a report by Anthony Sampson, the Guardian newspaper of Thursday , Nov. 1, 2001 quotes Le Figaro of France that “Two months before September 11 Osama Bin Laden flew to Dubai for ten days for treatment at the american hospital where he was visited by the local CIA agent… The disclosures are known to come from French intelligence which is keen to reveal the ambiguous role of the CIA and to restrain Washington from extending the war to Iraq and elsewhere.
            Bin Laden is reported to have arrived in Dubai on July 4 from Quetta in Pakistan with his own personal doctor , nurse and four bodyguards to be treated in the urology department . While there he was visited by several members of his family and Saudi personalities and the CIA.”
            Before you respond pls do 2 things; check the story for verification, check also to make sure that Usama was wanted by the FBI since 1998.

      • Alhaji

        No, they did not get him. Allah made him “disappeared” and he is enjoying 72 virgins with allah’s prophet Mohammed in hell fire. I wish the US could show the video to Dan Maikoko how bullet “suya” his body to allah.

  • Liberty

    Our armed forces have achieved a lot in this war against terrorism, whatever the flaws. Abi, is war a dinner party?
    Which is that sector of the Nigerian state that is not affected by prolong bad leadership across levels?
    From education to health care, which is that sector that still delivers world class service? How could the security sector be different?
    Thank God, the military is being rejigged and the results are impressive. From a lay man’s view, it seem they have very serious challenge with intelligence. I believe that with better intelligence, they will have done far better.
    All the same its many thanks for their sacrifices.