Olabisi Emmanuel, Lagos
More facts have emerged to prove that the audio recording in which the leader of the Boko Haram terrorists group, Imam Abubakar Shekau, was weeping and crying for mercy is not only recent but that the BH leader lied when he claimed it was done some “five years ago.’
Investigations by our correspondent revealed that the attempt to discredit the audio was in order to preserve the image of the Boko Haram leader which has been battered in recent times by reports of the devastation on his group by the Nigerian military and the indication he sent out that he is about to surrender.
An inside source told our correspondent that when the audio leaked, Shekau was devastated and needed to do something to sustain his public image.
“His men no longer see him as indestructible owing to what he has been through this year alone and the audio tape confirmed his desperation and timidity which needed to be redeemed hence the attempt to discredit the audio,” said the source.
Fact Check by our team further revealed that the audio was actually done this year as the year 2020 stands out as one of the worst for the terrorist groups.
Our correspondent recalls that in March this year, more than 1000 of the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists were killed across the Chadian border by troops led by the Chadian President, Idris Derby Itno forcing many of them to flee to Nigerian territories.
Not long after they fled, the Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, moved to the Northeast in what is now looking like the final push to crush the terrorists and in no time, the group started suffering series of defeats started with the killing of more than 100 of their fighting men and 20 commanders.
Nigerian troops sustained the heat right through to the next month of April and by May, no less than 500 of the terrorist groups top commanders and fighting men were slain and their key informants arrested.
Large cache of their arms were also seized and destroyed and many of their bunkers were blown off.
Our correspondent reports that it did not come as a surprise to many when an audio tape of the Boko Haram leader, Imam Abubakar Shekau weeping and crying for mercy and protection against Nigerian troops emerged due to the series of defeats he and his group have suffered within the last two months period.
Shekau, in the audio tape could be heard, asking “Allah” to protect him and his followers against the intensive fire power of Nigerian troops and lamenting what he called the “devilish act” of Nigerian military which e said has made the Holy month of Ramadan difficult for him and his followers to observe.
He could be heard in the 1:22 seconds audio, weeping that and saying that “If it is the devilish act and wickedness [of the Nigerian military], may Allah protect us from their evil. Oh Allah, keep us firm on your religion. We are poor things who know nothing, oh our Lord, Allah.”
He continued: “We deserted Izala people to practice your true religion; we abandoned Tijjaniyya people to practice your true religion; we deserted the Shiites to practice your true religion; we forsook our parents, uncles and aunties to practice your true religion.
“It is because of your religion that we placed a knife on your servants’ necks; but today, they are trying to change us from one thing to another. Oh Lord, have mercy upon us during Ramadan; Oh Lord, have mercy on under the blessings of Ramadan.
“Oh Allah, give us victory over our enemies. Oh brothers, for Allah’s sake, obey Allah and help me with prayers. This does not mean I am angry.”
But shortly after the video went viral and Nigerians were celebrating that the end of Shekau and his followers had come, the Boko Haram leader tried to downplay the import of his ululation and cry for mercy saying the audio is not a recent one, but was made five years ago.
He said in the sequel audio that, “I made the statement during the Muslim month of Ramadan and between that Ramadan and this one is about five years.
“In that statement, I prayed to seek Allah’s support. Even today, I will not stop telling my creator about my lack of strength for him to give me strength.”
He added, “There is war of words, certainly. There is a war of arms, certainly. There is also a war of deceptions. Indeed, there are many ways to fight anyone, we all know this.”
It is obvious that Shekau is quite disturbed about his image as a result of the leaked audio as he threatened those he says were responsible for releasing it to the public.
But the attempt by Shekau to defend what is remaining of his battered image has not been helped by his explanation that it is an old audio. It had rather emphasized the desperation of the Boko haram leader to remain relevant in the wake of the recent onslaught agains him and his group.
Fact Check by our team revealed that the claim by Shekau that the audio is as old as five years cannot be true as nobody in the last five year has come up to indicate ever hearing such a tape until now.
A security expert explained that if the audio was done five years ago as a message to Boko Haram members who were scattered across four countries and different territories, there was no way the message would not have been intercepted or sourced by military intelligence for five good years.
He said similar recordings of Shekau shouting orders to his men or trying to encourage them in battle that were done in the past had all been intercepted and verified.
The security expert said there is every reason to believe that Shekau was lying when he said the audio was done five years ago because of the current circumstances his group is passing through coupled with the fact that there was no compelling reason for him to have wept five years ago.
Further investigations by our correspondent revealed that the Shekau claim of five years cannot be true because the 2015 or 2014 which he was referring to are some of the years that the terrorists unleashed their worst acts of terror on Nigeria.
It was in 2015 for instance that the Baga massacre which involved a series of mass killings was carried out by the group, in Baga and its environs, in Borno State between 3 January and 7 January 2015 in which over a thousand people in 16 different communities were either killed or remained unaccounted for.
It was in that carnage that a military base that was the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force containing troops from Chad, Niger and Nigeria was overran and over 35,000 people are reported to have been displaced, with many feared to have drowned while trying to cross Lake Chad.
Shekau had after the carnage, claimed responsibility for the massacre in a video he sent out not long after and it was recorded that in the year 2015, the group was responsible for over 6,000 deaths in 270 separate attacks.
The year 2015 was even more devastating for innocent citizens as in the previous year 2014, the group was responsible for the death 3,425 dead in 220 attacks though it was in that year that the group gained international attention after its fighters kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State and it was in August of that year that Boko Haram announced it had established a “caliphate” in Nigeria with headquarters in Gwoza.
The group however suffered defeat in April, 2015, when the general elections were postponed which allowed the then administration to intensify efforts and Gwoza, Boko Haram’s base was retaken by Nigerian troops.
But the heat was not sustained to the extent that the Boko Haram leader would be weeping.
When the current Chief of Army Staff was appointed in July of that year, the story began to change and though the group suffered series of defeats after that ,many of them found safe havens in other neighboring countries like Chad and Shekau even bragged in many videos after that, that the group has not been sufficiently subdued.
The only evidence of a total defeat on the Boko from all sides only happened this year and this is why many believe that Shekau posted the second audio just to sustain his image a tough fighter which has since been eroded.
The audio tape has made many to believe earlier reports that the time is almost up for the terrorists and that the BH leader had actually indicated a willingness to surrender.