Where Is Shekau’s Grave?
There is skepticism about the veracity of the claims by the Nigerian military on Monday that there was evidence Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Muhammad Shekau, might have been fatally wounded in a gun battle with security forces between 25 July and 3 August in the northeast.
The military said Shekau died in Cameroon where he was taken for treatment. The doubts stem from the fact that it took the military about three weeks to announce the death of Nigeria’s most wanted terrorist, upon whose head the United States of America has placed a reward of $7 million. Above all, neither his corpse nor grave has been shown to anyone as a convincing proof that the terror chief is dead.
Reports that Shekau was shot in Sambisa forest in the northeast were released by the JTF spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, but the defence ministry had told a foreign news agency they were still seeking definitive confirmation of his death.
Besides, in a video message obtained by a foreign news agency 12 August and which the military says was a fake, Shekau appeared to address claims that he had been killed. The man who spoke in that video said Shekau is alive and well.
This is not the first time Nigerian authorities would claim Shekau had been killed. In 2009 the police claimed Shekau had been killed during a gun fight, only for the man to appear less than a year later in video clips circulated in Nigeria.
At that time, there were reports that he was shot in the leg and he went into hiding in Chad and Sudan.
Now, Nigerians are being fed the same news staple, prompting many to ask why the Joint Military Task Force, JTF, delayed the announcement of the death of Shekau for three weeks till its disbandment and take over of the military campaign against the terrorists in Northern Nigeria by a division of the army.
Is the JTF trying to play politics with the death of Shekau or is it trying to take credit and show the world that it has already won the war against the terrorists by announcing the purported killing of the Boko Haram leader?
It may not amount to asking for too much if the JTF could provide a little evidence to show that Shekau has, indeed, died from the gun shot wounds he sustained during a battle with Nigeria’s security forces in July.
We expect the JTF to spread its intelligence network to Cameroon and possibly locate where Shekau was buried and exhume the body, just to convince doubting Nigerians that the man has actually died. Until his grave or body is located, Nigerians will take the purported death of Shekau with a pinch of salt.