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US announces N2.5b bounty for information on Boko Haram leader, Shekau

THE United States Department of State is offering a reward of up to $7 million (N2.5billion) for information that would lead to the arrest of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau.

Shekau, said to have been killed a number of times by Nigerian troops, is ranked number 8 on the wanted list  of the US government which also features other key leaders of several terrorist organisations.

The Rewards for Justice Program, which is the counter-terrorism rewards program of the US Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, revealed this development in a Twitter post on its official handle @RFJ_Francais.

“The United States Department of State offers a reward up to $7m for information leading to the arrest of the terrorist, Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram,” the tweet read.

Photo credit: US State Department Rewards for Justice Program

The message was originally written in French, but a Twitter user, posted its translation by Google to English indicates that the terrorist has N2.5billion bounty on his head.

Shekau is currently the leader of  Boko Haram, a Nigeria based extremist group seeking to overthrow the Nigerian government and establish territories governed based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

He assumed the leadership position of the group in July 2010, after the extrajudicial killing of its former leader, Mohammed Yusuf.

Other terrorists on the list include Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is the current emir of Al Qaeda and former leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad with a $25 million reward on his head, Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani Network based in Pakistan with $10 million, Abu Muhammad Al-Julani and Abdullah Abdullah are both wanted for their role on behalf of Al Qaeda in the 1998 US Embassy bombings with a reward of $10 million each.

According to the Global Terrorism Index, Boko Haram has killed tens of thousands and displaced 2.3 million from their homes, of which at least 250,000 have left Nigeria and fled into Cameroon, Chad or Niger which led to being branded as one of the world’s deadliest terror group.

Their past targets include a vehicle bomb attack on the United Nations headquarters in Abuja in August 2011 marking the group’s first deadly operation against Western interests, killing at least 23 people and injuring 80 others.

In April 2012, the group bombed a Nigerian newspaper office in Abuja and later threatened other local and international news outlets.

The group has also carried out mass abductions including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in April 2014 and two years ago, abducted some schoolgirls from Dapchi in Yobe State, releasing all of them except Leah Sharibu who refused to deny her Christian faith.

As part of measures to win the war against terrorism, the Federal Government of Nigeria has initiated a plan to give amnesty to repentant terrorists while the Senate is currently debating a bill to establish an agency that will cater to the repentant insurgents.

The government has claimed to have killed Shekau but the Boko Haram leader has resurfaced on several videos to show that he is still alive.

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