Nigeria’s military on Saturday claimed further gains in its counter-offensive against Boko Haram, but the group’s shadowy leader Abubakar Shekau dismissed the talk of success as “lies”. Army spokesman Sani Usman said troops destroyed more rebel enclaves and camps in the restive state of Borno, which has been worst hit by the six-year Islamist insurgency. Shekau said in a 25-minute recording in Hausa and Arabic via social media:
“They (the military) lied that they have confiscated our arms, that we have been chased out of our territories, that we are in disarray. We are alive, I am alive, this is my voice, more audible than it was before. This is Shekau.”
He added: “Buhari is a liar and has deceived you. The army spokesman is also lying. He and his footsoldiers always run helter-skelter whenever we come face to face with them… Buhari, you once claimed that you will crush us in three months. How can you crush us?”
Shekau directly refers to IS group leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, to whom he says he is “loyal and subservient”. He also name-checks IS spokesman Abu-Mohammed al-Adnani and sends “greetings to the faithful in Yemen”, where there is also an IS “affiliate”. There was no indication of where or when the recording was made but it appears to have have been in recent days.
Shekau talks of Buhari’s “deal with Hollande”, referring to the Nigerian president’s three-day visit to Paris earlier this week, which included talks with his French counterpart Francois Hollande. He also dismissed as untrue Buhari’s comments about “our brethren in prison”.
Buhari this week said the Nigerian authorities were talking to Boko Haram prisoners in their custody and could offer them amnesty if the group hands over more than 200 schoolgirls abducted last year.