The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has directed the Theatre Commander, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru, to capture Abubakar Shekau, the so-called and self-styled leader of Boko Haram terrorists group, dead or alive.
The army chief has given the Theatre Commander 40 days, within which to accomplish the assignment.
Brigadier General Sani Usman, Director Army Public Relations, who made this known in statement on Friday, further stated that Gen. Atahiru is to employ all arsenal at his disposal to smoke out Shekau wherever he is hiding in Nigeria.
He also called on Nigerians to assist and volunteer information that would lead to the accomplishment of this task.
Buratai’s marching order in coming on the heels of several claims that have been made by the Nigerian military of having killed, or fatally wounded the Boko Haram leader.
After each claim, the elusive terrorist had also released audio or video messages to refute the Nigerian military’s claim, but the military on their part had also played down his messages, sometimes claiming they were concocted.
The military had also claimed that the sect was using Shekau look-alike fighters to impersonate the supposedly dead leader.
In 2009, security forces reportedly killed him along with 1000 other Boko Haram members, including his boss, Yusuf and key financier Alhaji Buji Foi. But the report was proven wrong as he re-emerged in a video in July 2010 and took responsibility for most of the sect’s attacks.
Then in 2011, another report emerged that he had been sent to the great beyond by security agents in Kano after an exchange of fire in a Kano neighbourhood.
In 2013, an army spokesman announced that Shekau may have died between July 25 and August 3 from fun shot wounds sustained during a shoot-out with security forces attached to the Joint Task Force.
The statement from the JTF on his death said: “Shekau was mortally wounded in the encounter and was sneaked into Amitchide, a border community in Cameroon for treatment from which he never recovered.”
Not long after, Shekau appeared in a video talking about an attack carried out by his group on two military camps in Mallam Fatori border village, well after he was supposed to have died.
Again in 2014 Nigerian and Cameroonian sources provided a video that a Boko Haram commander named Bashir Muhammed, who ‘doubled’ as Shekau and took up the mantle of leadership after the real Shekau died in unclear circumstances in 2013, was killed in Konduga in Borno state.
There was even an argument between security forces of both countries as each tries to claim credit for the killing.
Yet again however, Shekau resurfaced in another video debunking claims that he had been killed. He said: “Here I am alive. I will only die the day Allah takes my breath.”
There were reports again in August 2016 that Shekau had been fatally wounded during an air raid.
Army spokesman, Brig Gen Usman had said then, that “Those Boko Haram terrorists commanders confirmed dead include Abubakar Mubi, Malam Nuhu and Malam Hamman, amongst others, while their leader, the so-called ‘Abubakar Shekau’, is believed to be fatally wounded on his shoulders”.