Security agencies have begun a manhunt for “the real Abubakar Shekau,” the fugitive Boko Haram leader, following the military’s destruction of the Islamic sect’s spiritual base hitherto located in camp Zairo in the Sambisa forest, Borno State.
The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, who gave the indication after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa yesterday, vowed that the military would soon close in on “the real Shekau” who, he said, has continued to evade arrest with the aid of masks and other forms of disguise.
Shekau has been reportedly killed or fatally wounded no fewer than three times by Nigerian security forces but he always manages to ‘resurrect’, days or months later in video or audio recordings, claiming to be alive and well.
“I believe it’s just a matter of time. It took America about 7 to 10 years to get Osama Bin Laden. So, we will get Shekau as soon as possible.
“There could have been so many Shekaus but we are looking for the real one. He has been using mask to portray Shekau in one incident or the other to give an impression that he has been killed so that we will relax, but we will not relax. We are on him,” the minister said.
The minister said the military has in the bid to effect the arrest, already captured Sambisa forest and currently “dominated the whole stronghold where they used to be.”
He said the military was acting on a presidential directive to ensure that the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and other Nigerians in the area return to their homes and farms, experience peace and tranquility as well as go about their normal businesses.
Meanwhile, the Borno State commandant of Nigeria Security Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Ibrahim Abdullahi, said that two Boko Haram spies and a supplier were arrested along with eight other suspected vandals and merchants for allegedly re-reselling food supplies meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.
Parading the suspects yesterday in Maiduguri, Abdullahi said that Ali Mustapha was sent on a mission by a Boko Haram Commander to spy on Maiduguri metropolis and report back to their base in Abadam of the Lake Chad region.
Also, Mustapha, a 17-year-old Boko Haram suspect claimed to have been forced to kill 13 people in Chikingudu Forest in Kukawa Local Government area of Borno State, when he was held captive for three years by insurgents.
He also confessed that he was sent by Boko Haram terrorists to assess the situations in the metropolis on Baga Road, Maiduguri Monday Market (MMM) and the Custom area.
Men of the command arrested the suspect near the Bakassi IDPs camp, Maiduguri. His parents were also identified as IDPs taking refuge at the camp.