Falmata Abubakar, the mother of Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Boko Haram, was a victim of her son’s terror attack, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier published the lamentation of Ms Abubakar over her son’s terror activities.
In the story, based on an interview Ms Abubakar granted Chika Oduah of the Voice of America (VOA), Ms Abubakar said she had no knowledge if her son was dead or alive.
PREMIUM TIMES engaged Ms Oduah for further details of her interview with Ms Abubakar.
According to Ms Oduah, Ms Abubakar was forced to return to Shekau village after relocating from another town.
“This woman has also been affected by the insurgency that her son has led,” Ms Oduah told PREMIUM TIMES. “She was living in a nearby town called Babangida and Boko Haram attacked it and she was forced to flee and return to Shekau town. This is what she told me. This dispels ideas that this woman may have been totally shielded from the violence of the insurgency.”
In the interview, Ms Abubakar was also asked if she knew who the president of Nigeria. She said she does not.
“Then, I asked her, have you ever heard of the name Muhammadu Buhari and she responded by saying ‘Oh, I think I’ve been hearing that name a few times.’ It goes to show you how removed this woman is from national current affairs and gives insight to how remote the town is,” Ms Oduah said.
The journalist told PREMIUM TIMES that Ms Abubakar seemed to be feared by residents of her Shekau village. She said some of the residents were afraid of associating with the woman.
“There was clearly a caution that I noticed people maintained when they led me to meet her,” Ms Oduah said.
Ms Oduah said she was unsure why the community elders allowed her to speak to Ms Abubakar.
She also said the village leaders told her no one in Shekau town has ever joined Boko Haram. She said residents of the village told her the Boko Haram leader did not attend the burial of his father when he passed on some years back.
She described the village as being remote, located several kilometers off the main road.
“The driver just kept going and going, further into this wide space of open fields, driving north towards Niger Republic. There were no other cars on the road. For long stretches of the drive, I didn’t see any people.”
Mr Shekau is notorious for his leadership of the deadly group responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
He has carried out the execution of several people including members of the sect he leads. He has also carried out many raids leading to death and destruction of many towns and villages across the North-eastern part of Nigeria. He has bounty placed on him by both the Nigerian and U.S. government and has remained elusive despite several claims, and retractions, by the army that he had been killed.
His mother said Mr Shekau left the village for Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, as a young boy in search of Islamic knowledge. She said he was an “almajiri boy.”
The controversial Almajiri system involves young boys who are sent to learn Islamic knowledge from local clerics. Many ending up begging on the streets. It is common in Northern Nigeria.
As for why Ms Oduah wanted to get the story, she told PREMIUM TIMES, “It is important to know that members of Boko Haram come from somewhere. They have parents and siblings and hometowns. This woman’s voice is crucial in understanding the man who plays a major role in this insurgency, which is entering ten years.
“She spoke as a mother who is worried about her son.”