Boko Haram: Uncertainty in Northeast over death of Shekau, rise of Bakura Modu


Last month, the Nigerian military said it was investigating Shekau’s alleged death, but a month after the claim that Shekau blew himself, the military is yet to officially communicate further on its investigation into the death of the terrorists spiritual leader, who was a terrorist leader in the northeast region for almost 12 years.

ISWAP which had broken away from the Shekau-led Boko Haram faction in 2016 after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), raided the group’s hideouts, using multiple gun trucks on May 19, 2021, claiming he (Shekau) was defeated and also confirmed he killed himself. ISWAP message in a statement was its first confirmation that its arch rival in the Lake Chad region had been killed.

Saga Gist also gathered that one of the three closest bodyguards to Boko Haram Spiritual leader, who was identified as Abu Maryam confirmed that his leader, Shiekh Abubakar Shekau committed suicide following betrayal from most of his trusted commanders who secretly formed alliance with ISWAP under the leadership of Abu Albarnawi.

According to him, Shekau’s recordings earlier were a testimony of his disappointment and frustration when he learnt of the betrayal especially from those he considered too loyal to betray him. “They have fought side by side and gave him all the reasons to put his life in their hands but all that time, they had been in contact and given information about his movement to ISIS-led ISWAP,” he said.

Our reporter listened to the audio reports and confirmed there was unease in Shekau’s voice as he was lamenting betrayal from forces and lieutenants he trusted.

Sheakau himself confirmed the heavy casualties from his side from a week-long battle with ISWAP fighters. It was also gathered that, a few hours after the recording, Shekau realized that he was surrounded and that several of his men deliberately retreated to give easy access to the ISWAP fighters who were determined to capture him alive.

At the height of the claims, Bulama Bukarti, an analyst specializing in Boko Haram at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change also said that Islamic State “are consolidating the whole area, the Lake Chad region and (Shekau’s stronghold), “ISWAP had framed Shekau as the problem and he was the only person they wanted to remove,” Bukarti said of Islamic State’s attempt to lure Boko Haram commanders and fighters to their side.

But the arrest and subsequent execution of 30 commanders of the Shekau’s extraction by the Albarnawi-led faction reveals that the ISWAP was not only after Shekau but also commanders who still believe in the ideology of Boko Haram spiritual leader. Those said to have been executed at that time include: Abdul Bash, Commander Parisu, Abu Mujaheed, Commander of Sabil Huda, Mala Ali, Commander of Farisu, Amir Hassana, Commander Garin Dambe, Malam Bako, Commander Hizba, Amir Halid, Commander Njimiya Falluja, Commander Garin Mala, Abu- Fatima, Commander, Gwashke, Kaka BK, Commander Garin Abu Asmau.

Others are Alai Bukar, Commander Mina Ngawri, Abu-Ubaida, Commander Jungle Gabra, in Pulka, Amir Abdulrahman Commander, Gobara, Abu Muhammad, Commander Alava, Ali Shara, Commander Yuwe Hanyan Bama, Amir Huzayfa Commander Yuwe Hanyan Welcome, Abubakar Sarki, Commander, Yuwe Hanyan Konduga, Ibn Abbas, Commander Barin Bulla Yaga, Ali Ngule, Commander Madara Mountain among others.

Also included are Ummati Mai Shayi, Commander Madara Mountain, Mala Musa Abuja, The Chief Bomb Maker, Mallam Bana Sharra, Chief Judge to Shekau faction, located at Garin Mala Hassan, Baba Dr. Konduga, Chief Medical Doctor, Alava Road, Ma’azu Dan Lokodisa, The Chief Prison Officer, Alai Abba, the Caretaker of Women, children, Mala Musa, Chief Mechanic Officer, located at Parisu, Abu Zaid, Chief Bomb maker, located at Parisu, Abu Aisha Special Clearance operations Unit, Fairs, Amir Okasha, Bomb Timer, Farisu and Amir Awana among others terrorists.

Several people have commented on the situation and circumstances surrounding Shekau’s death, but some people still believe that Shekau may resurrect the 7th time. However, the emergence of a 24-year-old Bakura Modu in a three minutes and fifteen second video should lower the dust about Shekau as a new chapter is opened on the conflict in northeast Nigeria.

Some people argued that there is another older Bakura Modu, but the one who spoke put many cases to rest. It was learnt that he had led a fight to ISWAP camps in Sambisa forest to avenge Shekau’s death and killed many commanders and fighting men loyal to Albarnawi.

Bakura Modu, who wore white and turban in black was seen in the video being surrounded by top Boko Haram commanders and spoke actively in Arabic language, putting the lines of his message clearly to further indicate that the war on terrorism in the northeast Nigeria may linger for a while.

In the video, Bulama Modu spoke of the groups’ readiness to work with international terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq. His statement in Arabic was said to have confirmed Abubakar Shekau’s death as he prayed for Allah to forgive the shortcomings of the former spiritual leader and called on fighters who had been with Shekau not to lose heart but to cheer up to realities and find their ways to the fold.

Speaking to BBC Hausa, Barrister Audu Bulama Bukarti of Tony Blair Institute for Global Change observed that, while ISWAP and Shekau’s fighters are killing themselves, now is the opportunity for the Nigeria military to attack both factions to completely destroy them. He said the death of Shekau was a heavy blow on the terrorist faction under his leadership and doubts if the new leader has the capacity to do what Shekau did during his reign of terror across the northeast region.

But a security source said that Bakura Modu could also be a dangerous personality. According to him, Bakura Modu was part of the bloodshed in the northeast as a child soldier and was at a time arrested and detained by the DSS. He was said to be in the class of Sokoto and Oguche (both the masterminds of the bombing of Catholic Church in Madalla in Suleja and Nyanya in Abuja}. According to him, though younger, Bakura Modu is feared amongst his mates.

Bulama Bukarti in an interview with the BBC also said that Abu Musab Albarnawi is currently losing his hold on the ISWAP faction as group members have likened him to the wicked son of prophet Noah, implying that his father, late Mohammed Yusuf led the ground well but his leadership is bringing more uncertainty in the pursuit of their ideology.

Also speaking on the possible rise of the Boko Haram terrorists group after Abubakar Shekau, Umar Zannah Magumeri, who spoke on Saturday said since the claim of Shekau’s death, there has been relative calm in and around northern Borno.

“But that is not to say that Boko Haram has lost completely its fighting men. There were still pockets of attacks in the villages not reported. Our people also have been telling us about the presence of fighters loyal to Shekau, who are still coming around to lure people, especially young men who are doing nothing,” he said.

Zannah said when Mohammed Yusuf was killed, it took Boko Haram one year to mobilize to attack villages and killing people as well as detonating bombs across the state. “The seeming disarray in the camp of Shekau should not amount to jubilation yet. It took the group one full calendar year to reorganize themselves the last time their leader was killed and Shekau emerged and nobody should be reminded of what happened after his emergence. Anyone who is leading such a deadly group should never be taken for granted. I do not know Bakura Modu but I heard about him,” he warned.

Saga Gist spoke with other security sources, who claimed that the ongoing war against terrorism, has recorded successes but also said that while everybody is praying to see the end of the conflict, people should understand that the conflict may still linger for some time especially with the rise of new breed of leaders across factions and the ongoing recruitment of foot soldiers by the terrorists group.

Asked why the opinion and whether the conflict may linger as a result of lack of commitment on the side of the fighting men (Soldiers) or government, a top military personnel, who did not want his name in print said that, “No soldier wants this war to continue. I heard stories that soldiers do not want the conflict to end because they are making money. I don’t want to believe such stories because people peddling such rumors are not telling the stories of how soldiers are also dying as a result of this conflict. So, if you are making money and you die, what have you done? Everyone wants to live. The soldiers are not enjoying the fight and nobody wants to continue fighting. We all have families and they need us.

“Commitment on the side of the government, I can tell you yes! The President has said something about that. You people have him on record and if anybody is not satisfied with what the President said, I don’t think anybody will be satisfied with what anyone else will say. “

He also said that members of the Boko Haram faction as well as ISWAP elements are still enemies of Nigeria. “We have been fighting both factions and both factions are still attacking military formations but I can assure you that we are winning the battle and we will also win the war.”

Meanwhile, speaking in an interview with newsmen shortly after taking over the command on Friday, the theater Commander, Major General Christopher Musa said “what you would be expecting is victory, you were all here yesterday, when the President and commander-in-Chief was addressing the troops about the deployment of equipment and resources. We have gotten all the necessary assistance, on our part; we want to assure you that we will bring this menace to a logical conclusion within the shortest possible time.”

“As symmetric warfare keeps on evolving, as the adversary keeps on evolving , we will do the same, until we ensure we terminate everyone that are opposing our victory.” General Musa Stressed.

While soliciting the support of the media, the New theater commander said,” I want to solicit for your support, we are all human beings and Nigerians. During war, nobody is a winner, we are all victims. The media has a great role to play. Security is not the business of the military alone; it is the collective efforts of all. So we count on your support to win this war.”

The Sambisa forest area had been a stronghold of the Shekau-led Boko Haram group, also known as the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah Wa’l-Jihād (JAS). Although confrontation and skirmishes between the two rival factions (JAS and ISWAP) are common, the situation recently spiked to a new levels.

Shekau had been the leader of Boko Haram since 2009 following the death of the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf. He had been rumoured to have been killed at least six times between July 2009 and Aug. 2015. In Aug. 2016, the Nigerian Air Force claimed he had been “fatally wounded” by military bombardments, but the terror group released a video only a month later showing he was alive and in good health.

In the previous week, Nigerians were waiting for a new video to emerge about Shekau coming back to life as he was said to have resurrected six times in the past, but exactly one month after he was said to have blew himself, a new generation of Boko Haram under a new leadership with new plans and new battles to fight emerged. There is no doubt Borno State is still at the centre of the conflict but the prayer of the people was never to have the same experience of the 12 years of terror reign.

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