Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Boko Haram group that has terrorised northern Nigeria in the last decade, has again been reported dead.
A police intelligence report shared with TheCable quoted top commanders of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a breakaway faction of Boko Haram, as saying Shekau blew himself up on Wednesday following a confrontation.
The Boko Haram leader was said to have killed himself with a bomb “when he observed that the ISWAP fighters wanted to capture him alive”.
Baana Duguri, an ISWAP commander, was quoted as saying in the report from the Nigeria police intelligence unit that the ISWAP members “surrounded the Boko Haram leader with his team and shooting ensued between the two factions”.
TheCable understands his conversation with Modu Sulum, ISWAP logistics commander, was taped by the inspector general of police (IGP) intelligence response team (IRT) led by Abba Kyari.
Shekau’s reported death has not been independently verified by TheCable. But this is not the first time it has been in the news.
SHEKAU’S MANY LIVES
Checks by TheCable showed that the Boko Haram leader has been pronounced dead on at least four occasions, mostly by the military.
First ‘killed’ in July 2009
The first time was in July 2009, shortly after he succeeded Mohammed Yusuf as the leader of the group. The military announced then that he died during an onslaught against the insurgents, only for him to appear in a videotaped interview in July 2010.
‘Dead’ again in August 2013
About five years later, the military said in an intelligence report that Shekau had died in a raid conducted between July 25 and August 3, 2013. A month later, he appeared in a recorded video although the military said the person in the video was an imposter.
‘Killed’ again in September 2014
The Nigerian army announced a year later that the Boko Haram leader had been killed by Cameroonian troops in the frontline. The Cameroonian military also confirmed the claim but the photos they released, claiming to be those of the dead Shekau, were widely disputed. It did not take long before he appeared in a video in October 2014.
‘Killed and replaced by new leader’ in August 2015
The late Chadian President Idriss Deby announced in August 2015 that the country’s troops have killed Shekau, and that he has since been replaced as the leader of the insurgents. As usual, it never ended there: Shekau released an audio message that month announcing that he is alive.
The last official information on Shekau’s fate was in August 2016 when the Nigerian Air Force said he had been “fatally wounded” in airstrikes.
The spokespersons of the Nigerian army and police have been contacted for response regarding the latest development.
Meanwhile, in the intelligence report shared by TheCable, the police requested the military “to bomb the ISWAP members who just occupied Sambisa forest.”