Boko Haram leader Shekau may have died -JTF...

There is  confusion in high security circles over the reported killing of the  leader of the Boko Haram Islamic sect,  Abubakar Shekau, by operatives of the Joint Task Force in Borno State.

The spokesman of the JTF, Col. Sagir Musa, said in a statement on Monday that the Boko Haram leader died of gunshot wounds he sustained during the invasion of the Sambisa Forest Headquarters of the sect in June.

Curiously, the Director of Defence Information, Brig. Gen Chris Olukolade, referred our correspondent to the headquarters of the JTF  in Borno State, when he was contacted for further confirmation.

Ordinarily, the killing of the most wanted terror leader, who has a $7m  bounty on his head, would have been celebrated by all security agencies but the situation appears to be different in the absence of evidence of his death.

Musa said intelligence reports at the disposal of the JTF showed that "Abubakar Shekau, the most dreaded and wanted Boko Haram terrorist, may have died."

The JTF spokesman said the Boko Haram leader was seriously wounded in the attack on the sect headquarters at Sambisa on June 30, by the special forces and was taken to a border community in the nation's border with Cameroun, identified as Amitchide, for treatment.

He said Shekau did not recover from the gunshot wounds he sustained at the Sambisa Forest.

Musa added that Shekau was behind the abduction of elder statesman, Alhaji Shettima Ali Mongonu, and the French family of seven, comprising four children, at a border town between Nigerian Cameroun.

The statement said, "Shekau was mortally wounded in the encounter and was sneaked into Amitchide - a border community in Cameroun for treatment, from which he never recovered.

"It is greatly believed that Shekau might have died between July 25 and August 3, 2013. He was reported to have masterminded the kidnap of the seven French citizens and that of the elder statesman, Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno, in addition to many murders of Islamic clerics in northern Nigeria.

"He was also responsible for the bombings of many places of worship and public buildings, including police and United Nations Headquarters in Abuja."

Musa added that a video released purportedly by the Boko Haram leader on August 13, 2013, was a deceit by a member of the sect to convince members to continue with the insurgency.

He urged members of the sect to lay down their arms and accept the Federal Government's offer of dialogue.

 Musa added that the video was "dramatised by an imposter to hoodwink the sect members to continue with terrorism and to deceive undiscerning minds".

However, it was gathered that the military high command in the country was bitter about the release of the statement on Shekau's purported death because of the growing lack of evidence around it.

However, a top security source confided in our correspondent on Monday that the statement was viewed as a product of sabotage and an unnecessary contest for glory by the JTF, which prosecuted the war against terrorism.

The source said that the hurried release of the news of the killing of Shekau on the date a new division of the Nigerian Army was taking over from the JTF was rather suspicious.