The Nigerian military has cleared the air on the rumoured killing of the leader of the Boko Haram sect, Abubakar Shekau, by army troops, during an encounter in Konduga, Borno State, last week.
In a statement by the Director Defence Information, Chris Olukolade, a major general, the military said that the top sect commander killed was one Mohammed Bashir, who had been posing in videos as Abubakar Shekau.
Olukolade stressed that Shekau, the eccentric character known as leader of the group, had already been killed.
Providing details on the attack that led to the death of Bashir, the Defence spokesman said the terrorists in continuation of their campaign of terror were determined to take over communities around Maiduguri which is their prime target and had made not less than four attempts between September 12 and 17 to execute their mission.
He said air and land forces were subsequently deployed to handle the situation and that the convoy of combat vehicles typical of terrorists’ mission that involves their top commanders were fiercely engaged by the land and air forces.
“Several of the terrorists including some of their commanders lost their lives in the encounters which lasted an average of about 5 hours each. The troops captured some of the terrorists and their equipment. Since the name Shekau has become a brand name for the terrorists’ leader, the Nigerian military remains resolute to serve justice to anyone who assumes that designation or title as well as all terrorists that seek to violate the freedom and territory of Nigeria,” Olukolade said.
He said a total of 135 terrorists on Wednesday, turned in themselves, along with their equipment to troops around Biu local government area, in Borno State, adding that the recent devastation on the leadership of the insurgents is attributable to the renewed commitment to the mission of eradicating terrorism from the country.
“A group of 88 submitted themselves at Mairiga/Bun-Yadi while another group of 45 terrorists were taken in around Mubi – Michika. They are all being interrogated and processed in conformity with the dictates of standard best practices,” the military spokesman said.
The Defence Headquarters applauded the gallantry of the Nigerian troops who it said had remained undaunted and professional in prosecuting this campaign against terror.
It also assured all allies in the war against terrorism of the Nigerian military’s resolve to maintain the momentum in the efforts to decimate and defeat terrorists.
The army has also urged all citizens to remain even more vigilant and cooperate with the security forces to completely flush out terrorists from the country.