News

Boko Haram most wanted leader Abubakar Shekau
By Punch Newspaper, Lagos
The leader of the Boko Haram Islamic sect,
Sheikh Abubakar Shekau, may have been
cornered by operatives of the Joint Task Force in
Gwoza hills, Borno State.
A top security source told Saturday PUNCH on
Thursday that the JTF had located the area
where the Boko Haram leader was hiding.
The source stated, “We are combing Gwoza hills
where we believe Shekau is hiding.”
The source added that a unit of the Army’s
Special Forces team had launched a “well-
coordinated assault” on a group of insurgents
somewhere in the Gwoza hills areas on June 26,
2013. Shekau, the source added, was in the
group of Islamists, with some of his closest
aides.
He added that the operation ran into “hitches”
and in the ensuing gun battle some of the
insurgents and members of the Special Forces
group lost their lives.
Another military source told Saturday PUNCH
that one of the army casualties was one of the
country’s best Special Forces officer, Major A.T.
Fambiya, who had volunteered to lead the
operation.
Sources told Saturday PUNCH five soldiers were
also gunned down by the insurgents during the
encounter.
Fambiya, who hailed from Gwoza Local
Government Area of Borno State, had reportedly
volunteered for the mission because of his
excellent knowledge of the area.
The source said the military authorities had
accepted Fambiya’s offer because he had grown
up in the area and he understood the area’s
rocky terrain.
Fambiya, who was on posting to the 322
Artillery Regiment in Benin City, Edo State, was
redeployed to the JTF on June 13, 2013, a few
weeks into his deployment to the JTF’s
Operation Boyona.
A brief biography of the late soldier presented
by the Nigerian Army authorities during his
burial at the Nigerian Military Cemetery, Abuja
on Thursday stated that he “was killed in action
on 26 June in a fierce encounter with Boko
Haram terrorists.”
The secrecy surrounding the operation made the
next of kin to the Major, a pastor, Iliya Joshua,
to call on the Federal Government to investigate
the cause of the death of his brother.
“We call on the Federal Government to
investigate the rumoured cause of the death of
the officers since it remains a mystery to our
family,” he said, without giving any explanation
about what he meant by “rumoured death”.
Iliya later told our correspondent that he made
the call to the Federal Government and the
military authorities to investigate the deaths
because his brother was not supposed to be in
Borno.
He said that the late major was supposed to be
undergoing training at the Nigerian Army School
of Artillery, Kantagora, Niger State.
He said, “I made the call because he was
supposed to be at the Army school of artillery.
The last time I called him, he said that he was
not part of those people that were going to
Maiduguri for this operation.
“But later, I was told that he had been killed. He
was not supposed to be on posting to that
place.”
When our correspondent contacted the Director
of Defence Information, Brig. Gen Chris
Olukolade, he said that the mandate of the JTF
was to look for all insurgents and not just the
leader of the Boko Haram sect.
“We know that we are combing everywhere for
every insurgent. The pursuit of the insurgents is
continuing. That is the mandate at the
moment,” he said.
President Goodluck Jonathan had told the CNN a
few days ago that the Boko Haram threat would
be overcome by security operatives in the
country.
He said that the Federal Government was
neither negotiating nor begging the Islamic
militants as steps were being taken to deal
decisively with the scourge.
He had said, “We are not negotiating with Boko
Haram. It is done all over the world. It is not
negotiation. We are not begging.
“Our security architecture was first designed to
deal with ordinary criminals but since terror
started, we have been building it. I believe if
you are to interview me again in three months’
time, you will praise me that this government
has tried.
“We are tackling terror from various angles. We
must first of all stop them through military
intervention, which we have initiated by
declaring a state of emergency in three states
where these terror attacks are predominant.”

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