The Nigerian Army has said the intensive clearance operation in Sambisa forest may have become unbearable for Boko Haram fighters and their leader, Abubakar Shekau, who is said to be wearing “hijabs” (veils), ostensibly to escape arrest.
The Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Brig-Gen. Sani Usman, who made the disclosure in a statement, said Shekau disguises in blue and black-coloured hijabs, in a bid to escape justice.
Usman said: “Credible information from arrested and surrendered insurgents indicated that the purported Boko Haram terrorist group factional leader, Abubakar Shekau could not bear the heat anymore as he has abandoned his followers, he is running for his dear life.
“He (Shekau) is desperately trying to escape the theatre disguised as a woman dressed in Hijab. We reliably gathered that to avoid detection Abubakar Shekau alternates between blue and black coloured hijabs. He was last seen in a black hijab.”
According to the DAPR, efforts at apprehending Shekau, who had been said to be ‘fatally wounded’, were ongoing, even as he enjoined residents of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, to be more vigilant.
The call for more vigilance, Usman said, comes on the heels of the disarray that the renewed Sambisa operations have caused the fighters.
The operations have also culminated in the clearance of more camps, as well as the rescue of hostage victims.
“The concerted efforts of troops of Operation Lafiya Dole on the ongoing clearance of the Boko Haram terrorists through Operation Deep Punch II has been yielding tremendous results. Troops have successfully been clearing Boko Haram camps in Sambisa forest including Camp Zairo.
“They have also rescued civilians being held hostages by the terrorists, recovered arms, ammunition, Improvised Explosives Devices (IED) factories and making materials as well as other equipment. Consequently, the terrorists are in disarray and scampering for safety while others were surrendering.
“We, therefore, call on all those remaining Boko Haram terrorists to know that they are following a coward moving about in hijab disguised as a woman. We also request all the remaining Boko Haram members to come out from hiding and lay down their arms and be treated humanely.
“While concerted efforts are ongoing to track and apprehend the fugitive terrorist leader, we implore also members of the public, especially the residents of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States to be more vigilant, security conscious and be on the lookout of Abubakar Shekau and other terrorists that might disguise as women to escape”, Usman stated.