The recent report that Boko Haram’s hit-man, Abubakar Shekau, is dead will not be the first time Nigerians are told that the most feared terrorist who happens to be one of their worst nightmares has been murdered.
Just like in other instances, there were unconfirmed claims on Wednesday, May 19, that Shekau was killed during a gun battle with members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the ill-fated Sambisa Forest. For more than a decade, stories had abounded of the killer’s alleged death and how he resurfaced with even greater poise and resources to continue with his work of terrorising Nigerians, especially in the northeast.
- In 2009, talks were rife about his demise following a deadly operation launched by the military. Although the raid was claimed to have neutralised many insurgents then, Shekau reappeared online, this time as the new leader of the group.
- Four years later, Shekau reportedly sustained serious injuries from bullets during a gun duel with Nigerian troops in August, only for him to boast in September that he was never killed.
- 2014 As if this was not enough, a claim by Nigeria Army sources backed by persons in the Cameroonian military said the wanted criminal actually died in Kodunga during a two-day battle. However, he came out to debunk the news.
- 2015 In 2015, Shekau boastfully rebutted an earlier report by the late Chadian president, Idriss Derby, that a new leader of the terrorist group had emerged following his alleged death.
- 2016 The next year, the Nigerian Airforce announced that the dreaded insurgent alongside some principal members of Boko Haram had been killed in Borno.
This also did not appear to be true as he was seen not long afterwards in a Youtube video threatening to wreak more havoc.