Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Boko Haram sect, has broken his five-month silence, refuting the report of his death in an audio message posted on social media on Sunday.
Describing President Idris Deby of Chad as a “hypocrite”, Shekau said infidels were behind reports of his death.
“It is indeed all over the global media of infidels that I am dead or that I am sick,” he said.
“It should be understood that this is false. This is indeed a lie. If it were true, my voice wouldn’t have been heard, now that I am speaking.
“I have not disappeared. I am still alive and I will not die until my time appointed by Allah is up.”
In the eight minute recording addressed to to the leader of the Islamic State (IS), Shekau said he was still in control of Boko Haram.
Last week during a press conference to mark Chad’s 55th independence anniversary, Deby said Shekau had been replaced with one Mahamat Daoud.
“There is someone apparently called Mahamat Daoud who is said to have replaced Abubakar Shekau and wants to negotiate with the Nigerian government,” he had said.
But Ahmad Salkida, a Nigerian journalist known to have access to top commanders of the sect, subsequently dismissed Deby’s view.
Salkida accused the Chadian leader of attempting to mislead the government of President Muhammadu Buhari the same way he did to Jonathan.
The Nigerian authorities refused to comment about Shekau all through the period of his absence apparently because the issue of his death had been an embarrassment in the past.
The unrepentant militant refuted reports of his demise on three separate occasions that security forces claimed to have silenced him.
In a video he released in October 2014, Shekau taunted the military saying he has “one soul”.
“Here I am, alive. I will only die the day Allah takes my breath. I am running our… Islamic caliphate and administering sharia punishments,” he had said.
“Nothing will kill me until my days are over… I’m still alive. Some people asked you if Shekau has two souls. No, I have one soul, by Allah. It is propaganda that is prevalent. I have one soul. I’m an Islamic student. I’m the Islamic student whose seminary you burnt… I’m not dead.”
Shekau took control of the group after its founder, Muhammad Yusuf, died in police custody in July 2009.
Under his leadership the group became more radical and carried out more killings.