By Marymagdalyn Francis
The Nigerian Army has described the recent video released by the Boko Haram terrorist group as a ploy to instil fear in people and to remain relevant.
A statement by Army spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman in Abuja on Thursday said the new 25 minute video released by the dreaded leader of the group, Shekau, from hiding, is a propaganda that should not be taken seriously.
Usman challenged the claims made by Shekau from his undisclosed location.
He said: “While effort is ongoing to subject the video for further forensic analysis, the Nigerian Army wishes to reiterate that it has captured and occupied the last known stronghold of the terrorist group in the Sambisa forest.
“We would like to reassure the public that this video is nothing but mere terrorists propaganda aimed at creating fear in the mind of people and to remain relevant.
“Therefore, there is no cause for alarm, more so as concerted effort in clearing the vestiges of Boko Haram terrorists wherever they might be hiding, is ongoing.
“Our gallant troops deployed in various parts of the North-East have continued to intensify search for all persons associated with Boko Haram terrorist group with a view to bringing them to justice”, Usman said.
He urged the public to be security conscious and be vigilant, and also to report suspicious persons or group with questionable behaviour to the security agencies.
In a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Shekau claimed he was safe and that his gang has not been crushed as was declared by the Nigerian military last week, after their stronghold in the Sambisa forest was captured.
“We have not been flushed out of anywhere. And tactics and strategies cannot reveal our location except if Allah wills by his decree,” the Boko Haram leader said.
“If you indeed crushed us, how can you see me like this? How many times have you killed us in your bogus death?,” He said.
Shekau, who spoke in both Hausa and Arabic, said the video was filmed on Christmas Day, a day after the report of the commanders of Operation Lafiya Dole, that the insurgency had been contained.
NAN mentioned that Al Jazeera reported Shekau as vowing to continue fighting until an Islamic state was imposed in northern Nigeria.
“Our aim is to establish an Islamic Caliphate and we have our own Caliphate, we are not part of Nigeria,” he said.
The Nigeria’s military commanders had voiced disappointment that it met an empty operational base of the insurgents, devoid of arms cache and ammunitions, and also not sighting any of the Chibok girls.
Except for Shekau’s Quran and flag recovered at the site, there was nothing else of significance that was recovered, leading to theories that the insurgents had escaped with some of the Chibok girls during the aerial bombardment by the Nigerian Air Force planes.
Nigeria’s military headquarters are yet to respond to the new Shekau video.
But Speaking to Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Brigadier-General Victor Ezugwu, a Nigerian army commander, said his soldiers had made significant gains against Boko Haram.
“This defeat is final and it [Boko Haram] will not spread to other parts of West Africa,” said Brigadier-General Victor Ezugwu, a Nigerian army commander on Tuesday, to Al Jazeera.