A pall of confusion may have descended on security circles in Abuja following the reported killing of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the rampaging Boko Haram sect, by the operatives of the Joint Task Force, JTF, in Borno State.
Last Monday, Sagir Musa, a lieutenant-colonel and spokesman of JTF, dropped the bombshell in a statement which alluded to the fact that Shekau might have died of wounds he allegedly sustained in a gun battle with operatives of the JTF at the Sambisa Forest in Maiduguri. Sambisa had all along been the fortified headquarters of the sect.
Musa said that the Boko Haram leader was seriously wounded on June 30, by the Special Forces and was taken to Amitchide, a border community in the nation’s border with Cameroun, for treatment. He said Shekau did not recover from the gunshot wounds.
The statement said, “Shekau was mortally wounded in the encounter and was sneaked into Amitchide – a border community in Cameroun for treatment.” Musa added that a video released purportedly by the Boko Haram leader on August 13, 2013, was a deceit by a member of the sect to convince members to continue with the insurgency. He added that the video was “dramatised by an imposter to hoodwink the sect members to continue with terrorism and to deceive undiscerning minds”.
Ordinarily, one would have thought that the killing or the eventual death of such a most wanted and notorious terrorist would have been a matter to be celebrated with photographs and banters in security circles, but this has not been the case. Instead, we are witnessing a preponderance of silence from official and security circles, a situation that seems to have confused almost everybody, except those who are in the know of the true situation of things as regards the fate of this high-priced criminal.
It would be recalled that at the height of his madness, a $7m bounty was placed on Shekau’s head, which makes him the most priced criminal in this part of the world till date. Nobody has seen any recent photograph of Shekau, even if taken in death, like it happened some years ago in Angola, when Jonas Savimbi, the leader of the UNITA (National Union for the TotalIndependence of Angola), a group that has destabilised the country for decades, was put forward for public view when he met his violent death. That singular event put paid to all the speculations about Savimbi’s possessions of a senseless, invincible ‘magic’ that had made him to appear and disappear at will for several years before he was eventually cut down by hot pellets.
The same thing happened to the two sons of Saddam Hussein – Uday and Qusay – who were both killed after the US-led invasion forces cornered them at a luxury apartment which served as their hideout in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul on July 22, 2003. The death of the duo represented the biggest coup for the collision forces after the fall of Baghdad, more than three months before then. That singular opportunity offered Washington a genuine hope of a turning point in the bloody guerilla war and laid the grounds for the eventual capture of Saddam Hussein.
While briefing the public at a late night press conference on the day of the incident, an elated General Ricardo Sanchez, the Commander of the ground forces in Iraq, said, “We are certain that Uday and Qusay were killed today. We have used multiple sources to identify the individuals.” Photos of the faces of the two fallen brothers were then taken and sent to Baghdad, where they were identified by Saddam’s private secretary, among others.
All these were proofs of what the invasion army was able to accomplish in their campaign in Iraq, even before Saddam was himself captured in a hole some months after, specifically, on December 13, 2003. So, it is quite unfortunate that rather than provide proofs of Shekau’s death, the public is being treated to mere propaganda, half-truths and, perhaps, a tinge of fallacy. Otherwise, why should the JTF spokesman say something and nobody, not even at the Army headquarters or the government itself, has come out to corroborate, confirm or put speculations to rest by telling the people the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
However, it was gathered that the military High Command in the country was jittery about the release of the statement on Shekau’s purported death because of the growing lack of evidence around it. Top security goons in Abuja are said to be wallowing in a pool of disbelief, especially with the assumption that the statement could have been a product of sabotage and an unnecessary contest for glory by the JTF, which is prosecuting the war against terrorism. Furthermore, the release of the news of the killing of Shekau to coincide with the date a new division of the Nigerian Army was taking over from the JTF, was also being viewed with suspicion. The army recently established a counter-terrorism division in Borno State. The division, which is expected to come under the command of a major-general, was established to deal with terrorists and terrorism that have gained currency in that part of the country.
From all indications, the death of Shekau need not have thrown up any controversy, except that some people may be fighting for attention and glory. In the first instance, Shekau is a fugitive, who is wanted dead or alive. Therefore, if the JTF says he has been killed in an encounter with security forces, the onus is on the JTF, the military High Command or the federal government who declared a state of emergency on some parts of the North and ordered military action, to come forward with convincing evidence. This, they should do as quickly as possible to erase the doubts the news may have left in people’s minds.
After all, we are all witnesses to the recent killing of Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaeda terrorist group at Abbottabad, in Pakistan, after about 10 years of being hunted by American forces. As a guide against public outrage, particularly in order to avoid turning his corpse or burial place into a Mecca of sort, where his sympathizers will now pay annual pilgrimage to, the Americans simply claimed to have lowered his body into the deep sea never to be seen again. This generated a lot of confusion until video clips and actual photographs of the bloody encounter started flying all over the place. As they say, seeing is believing – the videos and photographs were used largely to convince the doubting Thomas that, indeed, Osama Bin Laden will never walk on the streets of the planet earth anymore.
Personally, I am not too sure that Osama’s body was buried in the deep sea.
What my intuition tells me is that his body was ferried to the US to be used for forensic analysis in a laboratory. Perhaps, it could be to decode his senses and get to the inner workings of the brain of a mass murderer, a suicide bomber, an assassin, or maybe, a religious fanatic on the precipice of mental malady. As for Shekau, we all know he is a drug addict, a rapist, a terror-personified and a merciless man hunter, whose greatest interest is to cause the suffering of his fellow men. So, if this sort of man like Shekau has been killed or he is dead, either by gunshot wounds or rat poison, he deserves an inglorious end.
The only thing now is that, if need be, his body should be exhumed, videoed and photographed for all to see that nemesis has finally caught up with the serial killer. In that case, this regime of denial, half-truths, conspiracy of silence and all that will give room for wild jubilation among the people and banters among the security forces. With Shekau and his deputy, Momodu Bama, conveniently out of the way, the war on terrorism is half won, except that there may be other lesser evils lurking around, waiting to inflict pains on innocent people. Time will certainly take care of those ones!
‘If this sort of man like Shekau has been killed or he is dead, either by gunshot wounds or rat poison, he deserves an inglorious end’
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