Only Army can confirm death of Boko Haram leader – Maku

By The Citizen

The Federal Government has said it will not get involved in the controversy over the military Joint Task Force claim that the leader of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, might have died after being fatally wounded during a gun duel with the Nigerian Army.

The JTF spokesman, Lt.-Col. Sagir Musa, had said in a statement that Shekau sustained serious gunshot wounds in an encounter with the troops in one of their camps at Sambisa Forest on June 30, 2013 and that it was believed that he was dead.

The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, on Wednesday, said the Federal Government's position since the declaration of state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states was to allow the military carry out their operations and manage information emanating from the operations without interference.

Maku said it was the government's view that the military should be allowed to tell its story without undue 'political comments' by government officials.

He said, 'You will notice that since the President proclaimed the state of emergency three months ago, we have kept political comments out of it. We decided that it is better for the military to tell their story and that is why I have not spoken on it.

'We want to remove this security operation from any misunderstanding, especially from politicians. As a government, it is our operation but the most important thing is to allow the military tell the story of what is happening.

'From the story you and I have read, it is very clear that this state of emergency has achieved a lot of result for which all Nigerians are proud of the performance of our military and security services.'

The minister however said the information released by security agencies on the possible death of the sect leader was a morale booster for Nigerians and the military.

He said the implication was that security forces were closing in on the insurgents.

He asked Nigerians to continue to pray for the security operatives so that they could continue to succeed in their bid to rid the nation of terrorists.

He said, 'Relating to the story (Shekau's possible killing) that we have read, I think it is better we leave it at that. These people are on the run and we will allow the military to tell the story.

'The military said that it would appear that in one of their operations, the leader of the insurgents was mortally wounded and they were rushing him from place to place and they believe that he could indeed be dead. There is no question of losing confidence. It should give us more confidence.

'What it means is that the security forces are closing up on some of the kingpins of this murderous group that has denied thousands of Nigerians their lives. Some of the key leaders have been pronounced dead.'

The minister said that normalcy was gradually returning to troubled northern states as a result of efforts of security forces.

He said many parts of Borno State that had already come under siege had been reclaimed and the militants dislodged.