The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, committed suicide during a battle between his group and another terror outfit, an audio recording purportedly from Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the leader of the Islamic State West Africa Province, or ISWAP, has claimed.
The audio message follows media reports last month that Shekau, one of Africa’s most wanted men, blew himself up to evade capture by ISWAP fighters.
Neither Nigerian authorities nor Boko Haram have confirmed Shekau’s death and so many remain sceptical about the latest reported death because there had been several reports about Shekau’s death in the past, with Shekau later appearing in videos to refute them.
Al-Barnawi, a son to the founding leader of Boko Haram, the late Mohammed Yusuf, made the Kanuri language audio message that was heard this week by The Associated Press.
In the audio message, which last about 28 minutes, a voice that is reportedly al-Barnawi’s, lacing his speech with quotes from the verses of the Quran,
AO said it obtained the audio from a former jihadist who provides intelligence to the government and is familiar with al-Barnawi’s voice.
“He never thought this would happen to him even in his dream, but by the power of God we destabilized him; he became confused and fled to forest where he spent five days, wandering and stranded,” the message said. “We followed him again where we faced him with heavy fire. He ran away, then our troops called on him to surrender so that he would be punished.”
Shekau was asked to surrender in order to be pardoned or reinstalled as a leader.
“We kept assuring him that we were not out to kill him, but he refused. To him it’s better to die than to surrender,” he said.
He went out to describe Shekau as “a defiant and corrupt leader” whose fighters were celebrating instead of mourning his death.
“This was someone who committed unimaginable terrorism. How many has he wasted? How many has he killed? How many has he terrorized?” he said.
ISWAP broke off from Boko Haram in 2016 following a dispute between Shekau and al-Barnawi. Both terror groups have been fighting each other over territory since they fell out.