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Africa News of Thursday, 20 May 2021


Back from the dead: Five times Boko Haram leader Shekau refused to die

Nigrians are expressing skepticism over news of the Boko Haram leader's death Nigrians are expressing skepticism over news of the Boko Haram leader's death

• Skekau was the second leader of Boko Haram after taking over from founder Mohammed Yusuf

• The Nigerian army has on at least three ocassions said he had been killed in combat or air strikes

• Shekau was killed by fighters of ISWAP in the Sambisa forest

Whiles local media outlets have reported the death of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, a cross section of Nigerians are taking the news with heavy skepticism.

The reason being Shekau has been the most killed terrorist leader in the last decade with an average of one death rumour in every two years.

Death reports have gone as high up as the Nigerian military making the claims as was the case in the era of immediate past army chief Yusuf Buratai.

The army in 2016 said Shekau had been fatally wounded in an attack but will years on raid his Sambisa forest hideout with Shekau escaping after disguising himself as a woman.

The federal government and the army have yet to make any pronouncements on the development.

Here are five times Shekau has been 'killed' in the media

1. The first time he was reported dead was in 2009, at the time he was a senior comander in the group. Security forces launched an operation against the group, killing hundreds of its fighters.

Shekau was said to have died in the exchanges but he re-appeared in a video posted online and was later named new leader of the group

2. In August 2013, the Nigerian army reported fatally injuring Shekau during a raid on the group's base in the Sambisa forest.

The folowing month, Shekau appeared in a video and in usual fashion mocked the authorities over their claims to have eliminated him.

3. Five years later, in 2014. The Nigerian army claimed to have killed Shekau in a battle for Kodunga, a key town located in the then restive Borno State.

The faceoff lated between September 12 to 14th. The Cameroonian military - who are in a regional joint force against Boko Haram backed the claim of the Nigerian army with photos purported to be that of dead Shekau.

Shekau popped up yet again in a video to dispel the rumours and throw jibes at the armies.

4. In 2015, Foremr President of Chad Idriss Deby claimed the group had collapsed and another leader had taken over from Shekau but unlike in previous times, Shekau released a video to refute Deby's claims.

5. In 2016, the Nigerian Airforce announced having fatally injured Shekau and killing top Boko Haram commanders in an airstrike on Taye village on August 19 2016.

It was not long before a YouTube video of Shekau popped up and in typical fashion he mocked government and the army stressing that his life and death rested in the hands of God.

It was in the same 2016, that the group splintered with the original Boko Haram faction pledging allegiance to Al-Qaeda whiles the breakaway faction pivoted to the Islamic State.

The latter broke away from IS to form the Islamic State in West Africa Province, ISWAP.