The reported killing of a top Boko Haram leader said to be Abubakar Shekau has again ignited a fresh controversy between Nigerian and Cameroonian troops.
The Cameroon Concord had on Monday quoted a military source as having said that Shekau was killed on Saturday by the Cameroonian Army during a cross border aerial bombardment of his hideout in Nigeria.
To prove the killing, the newspaper also published photographs of the bearded man it said was Shekau who usually appears in videos as the leader of Boko Haram.
It made reference to a statement by the Cameroonian military authorities on the killing but was silent on its content.
The paper added in the report that the Cameroon army had been in serious combat against thousands of Boko Haram fighters trying to enter Cameroon through Fotokol from Gamboru Ngala in Borno State.
But Nigeria’s Defence authorities dismissed the claim that the said Shekau was killed by Cameroonian security forces within Nigeria.
The Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, stated that there was no raid on any terrorists’ hideout by Cameroon or any other foreign country within Nigerian soil.
Olukolade explained that the ongoing operations against insurgents in Kodunga and its neighbouring communities were being undertaken solely by Nigerian forces.
He said, “There was no raid whatsoever by Cameroon or any foreign forces in any part of Nigeria’s territory in pursuit of terrorists as claimed in some reports allegedly quoting Cameroon authorities.
“All operations in the environs of Kodunga and all associated border locations within the country are completely undertaken by Nigeria troops.”
The Defence authorities had said in a tweet last Wednesday that troops who repelled an attack by insurgents at Konduga, Borno State, captured a high ranking terrorist leader who was being treated in military medical facility.
The Nigerian troops had engaged the insurgents in Kodunga, killing 150 of them and capturing a large cache of arms, ammunition and vehicles on Thursday.
An intelligence source said that the military was still involved in moves to ascertain the identity of ‘the very prominent commander.”
“A seriously wounded high ranking terrorist leader is being treated in a military medical facility after he was captured in operation,” the tweet read.
The intelligence source, who also faulted the Cameroonian soldiers’ claim, added that the pictures by the Cameroonian newspaper could have been taken last year when Shekau was said to have been injured at the Sambisa Forest but later died at Amitchide in Cameroon.
The source added that the military leadership looked for the grave of Shekau without success in Cameroon.
He said that the Cameroonian authorities would have issued a statement on the killing of the top commander if it was true.
The last statement Cameroon released on the issue of the insurgency was an encounter with the insurgents at a border town called Kirawa where four civilians were reportedly killed.
The then Spokesman for the Joint Task Force, Sagir Musa, had said in a statement that Shekau might have died of gunshot wound during a shootout with insurgents at the Sambisa Forest on June 30, 2014
The announcement of his death was faulted by the leadership of the sect which released video clips of Shekau.
A New York, United States-based Nigerian online news portal, SaharaReporters, however, quoted another military source as claiming that the killed commander was one Bashir Mohammed.
It said that Mohammed whose body was in Kodunga, was the leader of Boko Haram’s Uye camp.
Cameroonian authorities yesterday released a photo of a dead man they identified as Abubakar Shekau.
According to the report, Nigerian soldiers, not Cameroonian troops, killed Mohammed last Friday in a fierce battle against Boko Haram insurgents in Kodunga.
It said that Mohammed, who bore a striking resemblance to Shekau and had appeared in a recent video, was killed when he led insurgents who were attempting to capture Kodunga and then seize Maiduguri.
The Defence Headquarters has however said that another set of insurgents numbering 10 surrendered to troops at Kawuri.
The Military authorities said in a tweet on Monday that insurgents had been taken into custody for security debriefing.
“Another set of 10 terrorists yesterday (Sunday) surrendered to troops at Kawuri. In custody for necessary security debriefing, victory for Nigeria,” the tweet read.
Five insurgents had on Saturday surrendered to the military.