Nigerian soldiers in an Otokar Cobra APC stand ready to defend Muslim worshippers with a RPG and a GPMG during the August 2013 Eid festivities
(PHOTO CREDIT: SUNDAY ALAMBA/AP)
28 August, 2013
The new Nigerian Army Division (7 Div), which was recently created to maintain a permanent security presence in the North-east and enforce emergency rule in the region, has been ordered to unearth evidence on the killing of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, in order to lay to rest the controversy surrounding his death.
A top military source revealed that there is currently a massive hunt with the collaboration of local and international intelligence agencies to unearth any clues that can confirm that Shekau is actually dead.
The source said: “The new division has been tasked with solving the mystery surrounding Shekau’s death without also jeopardising the major work of maintaining the peace and stabilising the North-east. “You know that with the new division, a whole strategic,operational and tactical aspect has been restructured. The brigades, armoured and tactical are in operation, and more than 8,000 troops including those already on ground with JTF (Joint Task Force). Our special forces, the air force and other agencies are still involved; just that the structure has changed.”
“First of all, however, the division has been mandated to get the remains of Shekau’s body or any clue to lay to rest once and for all the existing doubts about his death,” the source added.
Further investigation also revealed that the military authorities are not happy with the manner the JTF announced the death of the Boko Haram leader without due clearance from Defence Headquarters (DHQ).Another top military source said the action smacked of indiscipline as it has caused them sufficient embarrassment that needed explaining.
THISDAY also gathered that the authorities are still divided on whether to mete out sanctions to the erring officers of the JTF who released the information of Shekau’s death.However, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, has decided to remain silent on the issue for the time being.
Some officers in DHQ, nonetheless, are quite bitter that JTF nearly messed up the whole operation against Boko Haram in the Northeast, and have blamed the taskforce for antagonising the local population before emergency rule was declared. “It was the troops and special forces that were sent after the declaration of the emergency rule that saved the day by winning the trust and friendship of the local population.
“If you are observant, you will realise that the communities were asking for the withdrawal of the JTF troops until the arrival of the troops and special forces reversed that,” the DHQ source said.
Another source also noted that it was an act of indiscipline for JTF to have issued the statement on Shekau’s death without first getting clearance from DHQ. “I cannot imagine the new army division making an announcement of a serious and weighty issue like Shekau’s death without getting clearance from the Army Headquarters,” he said.