Last week Nigeria was hit by a double tragedy — one good and the other bad and sad. The Boko Haram ‘invincible’ leader, Abubakar Shekau, died either by suicide or was fatally wounded in a titanic battle with a rival splinter terrorist group out for a pound of flesh. That was very good news in all indications! A lifeless Shekau is worth celebrating even though we are not yet out of the terror web for now. Shekau’s international notoriety was not only his cruelty and bloodthirstiness but his reputation as the proverbial cat with nine lives.
Days later sad news emerged from Kaduna that the newly-appointed Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Ibrahim Attahiru, had perished with other top commanders and crew members when their Air Force jet crashed as it landed, blowing up and leaving no one alive! According to reports online the COAS and his entourage were officially headed to Zaria where they were to have attended the graduation ceremony of the Nigerian Army Depot.
The late Gen. Attahiru was a professional well-trained soldier whose command had seen some improvements in the protracted war against terror. Unlike his immediate predecessor, the retired corrupt and incompetent Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Gen. Attahiru went about his military commission with patriotic zeal which impacted positively on the frontlines. He was neither suffering from bravado nor loquaciousness.
When Gen. Buratai was still there as COAS Nigeria was bedevilled with unprecedented insecurity, banditry and abduction on industrial scale. Yet, he had the time to leisurely attend to his snake farm! During his unproductive years hundreds of Shiites were massacred in Zaria with manifest impunity. Today he is a non-career Ambassador!
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Abubakar Shekau was the leader of Jama’atu Ahl as-Sunnah il-Da’awati wal-Jihad, more commonly known as Boko Haram. Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden”, had effortlessly turned the northern parts of Nigeria into a battlefield where pure terrorism, banditry, kidnapping for ransom and rape was in vogue. He was an enigma! He defied both the Nigerian military and cheated death on more than one occasion.
The disorganized Nigerian military hierarchy had publicly announced killing Shekau on multiple occasions but in the end, at each occasion, it turned out to be fake news. Shekau would publish a video showing himself hale and hearty and asking President Buhari and his top military commanders which Shekau they said they had killed. He lived dangerously but the passion for what he did, terrorism, could not be denied. He was a blood-thirsty cruel mass- murderer who took pleasure in decimating communities, raping, killing and kidnapping poor folks.
The closer Abubakar came to being killed was during a battle against the Chadian troops. His heavily-armed group had inflicted a military damage to scores of Chadian soldiers. And the late Marshal-President, Idriss Deby Itno, livid, had to lead an offensive into the jungle aimed at neutralising Boko Haram from their stronghold. After a fierce clash Shekau was nearly killed but he escaped. Deby had warned him that his days were numbered.
The late President Deby was a Commander to the core. He had once told his commanders that what they would hear one fateful day was that Deby was dead leading the troop. And never that Deby was on the run! And as he predicted so it happened. He was allegedly killed on a war front far away from the presidential comfort zone.
It is difficult, nay impossible, for a Nigerian General to lead the troop to the war front. They always delegated power relaxing and signing arms and ammunition contracts that rake in millions of Dollars for their private pockets.
Nigeria is populated by ‘baby-Generals’, those who never fought any war yet got promoted because of their ethnic or religious backgrounds. You have those (like Oladipo Diya) who cried when confronted with hard evidence of their involvement in coup-plotting. You have seasoned coup plotters and ‘militricians’ like Generals Ibrahim Babangida, the late Sani Abacha and the late Joshua Dogonyaro. You have those who were specialists in stealing and doing ‘business’.
Abubakar Shekau reportedly committed suicide recently during a fatal clash with a rival terrorist organization. The Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) had taken the fight to Sambisa Forest in Borno State where Shekau had been hibernating for years. And following the invasion of the terror group’s stronghold in the Sambisa forest area by ISWAP’s deadly fighters Shekau and his top commanders were overpowered leading to his suicide.
Since he succeeded the late Mohammed Yusuf (himself killed extra-judicially by the Nigerian state) as the radical leader of Boko Haram Shekau had proven to be a military nuisance in Nigeria, Cameroun, Chad and Niger. The so-called ‘Grand Amir’ had displayed uncommon capacity to survive despite the American government’s bounty of 7 million Dollars on his head and the co’ordinated regional efforts to decapitate him and his group.
Under his ruthless command thousands of Nigerians up north had been killed, thousands more (including young students) kidnapped and hundreds of young girls raped, married off or sold off into sexual slavery! He had made millions of Dollars smuggling arms and ammunitions across the border from Libya. And much more through mass abduction and stealing of cows.
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Abubakar Shekau’s suicide (faced with death or capture by enemy forces) reminded one of how the notorious leader of the ISIS terrorist organization in Syria and Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, committed suicide following the American military invasion of his abode somewhere in Barisha, Syria. Before his demise he had sounded immortal and played god or satan!
As the US Special Forces closed in the bearded Caliph chose to flee through the tunnel. A hot chase by special operation dogs ensued. He was said to be screaming in mortal fear as the sniffer dogs gave a hot pursuit. Before any ‘damage’ could be done he was said to have detonated the explosives he was wearing blowing himself to pieces!
Now that Abubakar Shekau has joined his terrorist ancestors in hell it is hoped that the lucrative Boko Haram ‘business’ involving the Nigerian army Generals would be a thing of the past. Shekau’s death marked a critical milestone in the battle against terror in our country. The federal government must do the needful to take over Sambisa forest before other terrorists elect there as their headquarters once again.
The ISWAP leader, Goni Mustafa, must not be allowed to replace Shekau dominating military narratives and taking prisoners. Now that Shekau is hell-bound President Buhari must wake up from his slumber and for once live up to the presidential responsibility.
By Ozodinukwe Okenwa
Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.
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