FG Moves To Counter Shekau’s Threat On Abuja | Independent Newspapers Limited
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FG Moves To Counter Shekau’s Threat On Abuja

Abubakar Shekau
Posted: Aug 17, 2016 at 4:33 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Nicholas Uwerunonye


Recent clampdown in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on hawkers, beggars and other miscreants at busy bus stops and hubs may not just be about maintaining law and order in the FCT after all.

Rather, as Independent gathered, the renewed raid since last week is response to recent Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau’s threat to attack President Muhammadu Buhari, Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and Sani Usman, spokesman of the Nigerian Army.

The recent clampdown which has been more heavy handed began last week around Wuse Area and is expected to continue around areas like Gwarimpa and other adjoining places.

Those arrested in the raid not only had their wares confiscated, but were also charged to court and fined heavily with those unable to pay remanded in prison custody.

“We are working under the assumption that Boko Haram must have deployed into Abuja before making that open threat on video,” explained a senior police officer who was part of the task force on the raid.

In recent clip, shadowy insurgent leader, Abubakar Shekau, vowed to fight on despite being disavowed by IS and a new leader, Abu Mussab al-barnawi, son of late leader, Muhammed Yusuf, was appointed as the ‘Wali’, new leader of Boko Haram.

Defence Headquarters (DHQ) have been dismissive of the threats and questioning the authenticity of the video. There are indications that it has taken counter measures on the threat with the massive raid being one of them.

Also, as explained by security sources to Independent, Shekau’s modus operandi would require counter measures that involves making soft targets around the FCT less vulnerable.

The insurgents had masterminded bombing in populated hubs in Abuja like Mararaba/Nyayan, Banex Plaza area, Kuje, Lugbe and other smaller places were traders, commuters, and destitute normally congregate.

In previous attacks, casualties have been high in deaths, injuries and destruction of properties.

DHQ is, however, skeptical of the video clip showing Shekau, stating that the threats are mere “rhetorics”.

DHQ spokesman, Brig-Gen. Rabe Abubakar, in response to the clip had stated that it could have been made by anyone acting as Shekau.

In the said video, Shekau parading several of his men, was quiet, while one of his masked lieutenants read out a statement that reiterated their unflagging loyalty to him while denouncing IS’ choice of Al-Barnawi as its West African ‘Wali’.

Video experts in the security agency suggests that Shekau’s silence was to avoid having his voice being compared with previous other clips of him. There had been talks in the intelligence community that leaders of the insurgents are virtual persons.

The veiled speaker, standing in front row of men armed with lethal weapons, threatened that they would soon attack the presidential palace and bring down the Nigerian flag. The clip that lasted 24-minute was partly in Arabic and ended largely in Hausa, had the group issuing direct threats to President Buhari, Butatai and the spokesman of the Nigeria Army.

But DHQ says that it is not bothered by the talks. “That’s rhetoric and that doesn’t bother us. Which Shekau resurfaced and where did you see him? Remember anybody can replicate him. We know they are dying elements and will fade out soon,” Abubakar said.

The defense spokesman noted that having been defeated in the battlefield, the Boko Haram terrorists were attempting to shift the battleground to the media space.

He said the military was not interested in engaging the terrorists in a media war and would rather complete the ongoing clearance operations and the destruction of the group.

“We are not ready for a media war, which they would like us to engage in. Since they have failed woefully in the combat arena, they now want us to go to the media space. We will remain focused and his threats are just a figment of his imagination,” he added.

The army chief may well be right. On Sunday, the group released another video showing about 50 of the allegedly kidnapped Chibok girls claiming that Federal Government had killed 50 of the girls in aerial bombardment. The footage, however, leaves more questions than answers on the plight of the missing girls.