TVC N. The army yesterday dismissed a new video in which Boko Haram’s elusive leader Abubakar Shekau is disputing a claim that the jihadist group had been routed from its Sambisa Forest stronghold.
“It is mere terrorists propaganda,” the military said.
Shekau was boasting that the sect’s fighters remained strong.
He said: “We are safe. We have not been flushed out of anywhere. And tactics and strategies cannot reveal our location except if Allah wills by his decree,” Shekau said in the 25-minute video, flanked by masked armed fighters.
“You should not be telling lies to the people,” he said, referring to President Muhammadu Buhari who said on Christmas Eve that the extremist group had been defeated and driven away from the forest, its last known bastion.
“If you indeed crushed us, how can you see me like this? How many times have you killed us in your bogus death?” he asked.
But the Army dismissed his claim as “mere terrorists propaganda”.
It was not immediately clear where the new video was shot, but Shekau, who spoke in Hausa and Arabic, said it was filmed on Christmas Day.
Shekau last appeared in a video in September where he disputed a claim by the military that he had been wounded in battle.
He vowed to continue fighting on until an Islamic state was imposed in northern Nigeria.
“Our aim is to establish an Islamic Caliphate and we have our own Caliphate, we are not part of Nigeria.”
Buhari had announced that a months-long military campaign in the 1,300 square-kilometre (500 square-mile) forest in northeastern Borno State had led to the “final crushing of Boko Haram terrorists in their last enclave in Sambisa Forest”.
The government and the military have frequently claimed victories against the Islamic State group affiliate but access to the epicentre of the conflict is strictly controlled.
That has made independent verification of official statements about victories virtually impossible.
There have been video clips of troops setting fire to Boko Haram camps. Many bodies of suspected insurgents are displayed in the videos.
Besides, the army said on Wednesday that it recovered Shekau’s personal Quran and the flag displayed in his videos.
Also, there has been no major Boko Haram attack recently, many displaced people have returned to their homes.
Attacks have meanwhile continued, with Boko Haram using suicide bombers.
The Boko Haram’s insurgency has killed at least 20,000 and forced some 2.6 million others to flee their homes since 2009.
The violence has sparked a dire humanitarian crisis in the region, with thousands of children facing the risk of famine and starvation.
A statement by Army spokesman Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman Kukasheka, said:
“The attention of the Nigerian Army is drawn to a video clip released by Boko Haram terrorist group from an undisclosed location a while ago, showing its purported leader making spurious claims.
”While effort is on going to subject the video to further forensic analysis, the Nigerian Army wishes to reiterate that it has captured and occupied the last known stronghold of the terrorists group in the Sambisa forest.
”We would like to reassure the public that this video is nothing but mere terrorists propaganda aimed at creating fear in the minds of people and to remain relevant. Therefore, there is no cause for alarm, more so as concerted effort in clearing the vestiges of Boko Haram terrorists wherever they might be hiding is still ongoing.
”Our gallant troops deployed in various parts of the Northeast have continued to intensify search for all persons associated with Boko Haram terrorist group with a view to bringing them to justice.
“Consequently, the public are hereby enjoined to go about their normal lawful business, remain vigilant and security conscious. They should also report any suspicious person or group of persons to security agencies.”