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Life History of Boko Haram Leader, Abubakar Shekau

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Life History of Boko Haram LeaderAbubakar Shekau who has led the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, has carried out series of deadly attacks, in parts of northern regions since 2009. Shekau is said to be a fearless loner, a complex, paradoxical man – partly intellectual, partly gangster. Fondly called imam or leader by his followers, Abubakar Muhammad Shekau was born in Shekau village in Yobe State. He is said to be originally from Kaduna State but settled in Shekau village in Yobe state. He later adopted the name of the village as an almajiri who went to Maiduguri to learn about Islam. He did not have any formal education apart from the local Islamiyya schools he attended in Maiduguri. But as the deputy to the sect leader, he was said to have travelled widely in search of Islamic knowledge.

The countries he visited include Sudan, Egypt and Somali. It is believed that he must have been exposed to the extremist ideologies in these countries. His age pegged between 43 years old – the uncertainty adds to the myths surrounding Nigeria’s most wanted man. Shekau was once thought to have been killed by security forces in 2009 – only for him to reappear in videos posted on the internet less than a year later as Boko Haram’s new leader. The United States in June this year placed a whopping $7 million as bounty on Shekau’s head as reward on any information leading to his capture.

The U.S. Acting Assistant Director of Diplomatic Security Threat Investigations and Analysis Directorate, Kurt Rice had explained that the highest bounty of $7m was placed on Shekau because the US had “seen increases in the terrorist capabilities of the Boko Haram” under his leadership. The group’s founder, Muhammad Yusuf died in police custody, and hundreds of others were killed during that massive crackdown – which many blame for making the group even more violent. Shekau has not been seen in public since. Instead, still images and video clips of him were released from time to time, mostly online, by the group’s faceless “public enlightenment department”. Shekau is said to have met his predecessor in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, and now Boko Haram’s headquarters, through a mutual friend, Mamman Nur.

It was reported that Nur masterminded the August 2011 bombing of the UN office complex in Abuja. All three were theology students – and Shekau was seen as the quiet and perhaps the most radical of them. “He hardly talks, he is fearless,” says Ahmed Salkida, a journalist with such good access to Boko Haram that, at one stage, he was suspected of being a member. He says he only escaped summary execution by Maiduguri police after an intelligence officer intervened. “He is one of those who believe that you can sacrifice anything for your belief,” Salkida said. Shekau is fluent in his native Kanuri, Hausa and Arabic languages – he does not speak English. “I used to joke with him that he should teach me Arabic and I would teach him English,” Salkida said. When Yusuf was killed, Shekau was said to have married one of his four wives and adopted their children – perhaps, say sources who do not want to be named, to preserve Boko Haram’s cohesion or “purity”.

The group has a highly decentralised structure – the unifying force is ideology. Shekau does not communicate directly with the group’s foot soldiers – he was said to wield his power through a few select cell leaders, but even then contact is minimal. “A lot of those calling themselves leaders in the group do not even have contact with him,” Salkida said. Shekau has neither the charismatic streak nor the oratorical skills of his predecessor – but he has an intense ideological commitment and ruthlessness, say people who study the group.

“He is the leader of the more militant wing of the group as testified by his aping of Osama Bin Laden in his video appearances,” says Abubakar Mu’azu from the University of Maiduguri. Shekau issued a chilling message in one of those appearances – which provides a major insight into what his leadership of the group will bring. “I enjoy killing anyone that God commands me to kill – the way I enjoy killing chickens and rams,” he said in the video clip released just after Boko Haram had carried out its deadliest attack in so far in January 2012, killing more than 180 people in Kano, northern Nigeria’s largest city. Shekau is also the group’s spiritual leader – and, judging by video footage, he seems equally comfortable delivering sermons to his followers. “He has a photographic memory and is well versed in theology,” Salkida said.

He is nicknamed “Darul Tawheed”, which translates as a specialist in Tawheed. This is an orthodox doctrine of the uniqueness and oneness of Allah, which is the very cornerstone of Islam. But Nigeria’s mainstream Muslim clerics do not regard Shekau as a scholar and question his understanding of Islam – and regularly condemn the bombings and drive-by shootings committed by his followers against anyone who disagrees with them. Shekau was not just a student of Mohammed Yusuf, the late founder of the Boko Haram movement, killed in 2009; he was also one of the devout to his teachings.

He believed in the utopian Islamic evangelism of Yusuf, who preached against the evils of the modern secular states of the world. But unlike his late mentor, who believed an Islamic state was realisable through preaching and mobilisation of the people to reject secularism, Shekau believed the more realistic way was to take up arms, fight and conquer the “unbelievers.” While Yususf was said to be calm and even meek, Shekau is hot-headed and has a warrior’s heart. He was prepared to die for the cause and also willing to kill for it.

He is also said to be quick-tempered. For his loyalty and bravery, he became the deputy leader of the group. Several times during his lifetime, Yusuf was said to have had hot arguments with Shekau over the group’s modus operandi. Shekau had relentlessly advocated arms struggle for the group to actualise their objective, quoting several verses in the Qur’an to justify aggression against “unbelievers.” But Yusuf was said to have stood against any form of violence, saying it was against the teachings of Islam. But with the growing attacks on members of the group by the police and security agencies over the “inciting preaching” of Yusuf, Shekau’s influence in the group began to grow. Counter-violence became an attractive option to save the group and advance its cause. Shekau became a rallying point for the offensive against the police. Long before the military’s attack on the group in 2009, members of the sect, led by Shekau, had attacked police formations in parts of Yobe State in retaliation. By June 2009, Shekau had become the commander of the group’s army, executing traitors and defending loyalists of the sect.

When it became obvious that the military had planned to attack the headquarters of the group in Maiduguri in June 2009, Yusuf and some of the members of the group decided it was unwise to engage the military in any fire-fight, and planned their escape. But Shekau held them hostage, and called Yusuf a coward who was unwilling to fight for his cause. He reportedly threatened to kill anyone who tried to escape, and ordered that all must be ready for the fight. Many members of the sect lost their lives in the attack and Yusuf eventually died in police custody, Shekau managed to escape with some injuries, and became a survivor of the military onslaught against the sect. After his recovery, he brought the group together again and planned the armed struggle, which began with serial attacks against the police, military and other security personnel for the attack and killing of members of the sect. The group stopped preaching and went underground.

That was when the insurgency started and they began to target top members of the Borno State government for their alleged role in the killing of Yusuf and other members. Since he took over as the spiritual head of the group, the sect appeared to have shifted focus from its original objective of seeking to Islamise the country, starting from the North, through evangelism. Bomb attacks on churches; social spots and innocent people have continued to portray the group as insurgents seeking the disintegration of the country.

 

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USAID begins Covid-19 testing in Imo rural areas

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USAID averts 25,000 unwanted pregnancies in Ebonyi, Kogi

…Umuagwo Varsity of Agric kicks-off October

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun Covid-19 testing in the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State, “in a bid to reduce the impact of community spread of the virus in the rural areas of the state.

The Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba disclosed this in Owerri while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the Weekly Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Hope Uzodimma on Wednesday.

Chief Emelumba said so far, the USAID officials have carried out reasonable number of testing in Njaba LGA and reported that all those tested came out negative and that the council prayed that the result from other Local Government Areas will be the same.

He announced that the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has approved the take off of the Imo State University for Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Umuagwo in October this year.

According to him, the approval underscores the efforts which the Imo State Government ably led by Governor Hope Uzodinma has made towards the establishment of a second university for the state.

Recently, the NUC panel was in Imo State to carry out the necessary verification exercises on the state facilities, human and physical infrastructures.

Mr. Declan Emelumba, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Bernard Ikegwuoha, Commissioner for Health Dr. Damaris Osunkwo and the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Governor Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku, informed that the Executive Council is happy that something new is happening in the Education Sector of the State.

Emelumba said that the Imo State University of Science and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo will take off by October when other universities would be resuming for a new academic session.

In the same vein, the Council has approved the immediate relocation of Faculty of Engineering Imo State University Owerri to its permanent site at Okigwe, stressing that Government has put all processes and facilities on ground to ensure the immediate take–off of the faculty.

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM  Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

The Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku has visited Mr. Ogechi Iwu, a journalist with Osiza FM.

The media man is hospitalized at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri over complications from diabetes that led to his right leg being amputated.

Mr. Nwachuku said the visit was to show solidarity on behalf of Governor Uzodimma to his professional colleague, assuring him of their prayers, particularly that of his principal, and the prayers of Mr. Iwu’s numerous friends and well wishers who are touched by his plight.

“I am here on behalf of my principal to associate with him in this time of health challenge and to encourage him not to see the sickness as a death sentence.”

Oge Iwu at fmc

L-R: Chief Akaraonye, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku with Ogechi Iwu during the visit

Mr. Nwachuku urged Mr. Iwu to continue in the high spirit he saw him and trust God for his total recovery “because healing is a thing of mind and when a sick person is in high spirit the patient gets recovered quickly.”

The spokesman of the Governor promised to bring the plight of the journalist to the attention of his principal, and assured that the Governor will, in his usual manner of one with milk of human sympathy, show concern over Iwu’s plight.

Earlier, Mr. Iwu thanked the CPS/Media Adviser, the State Chairman of NUJ, Imo State, Chief Christopher Akaraonye and other journalists who were on the entourage, for coming to identify with him on his sick bed, and assured that God in his infinite mercy will quicken his recovery.

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has inaugurated a new Governing Council, for the Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri.

At the inauguration ceremony on Monday, August 31, the governor named Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji as the Chairman of the Governing Council and Pro-Chancellor of the University.

Other members of the Council include: Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, Chief Tony Ezenna, Prof. (Ven.) Chinedu Nebo, Sir. Louis Ezeigwe, Chief Engr. Ernest Nwapa, Dr. (Mrs.) Uwandu Uzoma, Ugoeze Victoria Adaku Ekezie, Prof. Adaobi Obasi (Vice Chancellor) and others.

Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Uzodimma said the choice of the members is to infuse fresh air into the university because “It is in dire need to bounce back to reckoning.”
He added that the choice of the members was because they have carved a niche for themselves in their chosen fields of endeavour and that they have earned solid reputation as men and women of substance in their individual trade, indices that qualified them for the appointment.

He challenged the members to bring their reputation to bear on the University, bearing in mind the task for good quality scholarship in Imo State University as well as service to humanity.

The Governor urged the members to deploy their individual accomplishments, excellence, expertise, passion for service as effectively as necessary to actualize the dream of his administration of having a highly reputable University comparable to the best Universities in the World.

He also requested the Council to “restore in words and deeds the motto of Imo State University, which is Excellence in Service”.

“Imo State University currently is a classical example of a failed University,” Governor Uzodimma said but strongly believed that “with a star studded Governing Council such as the one inaugurated there is no doubt that Imo is on the track to realize the dreams of her founding fathers.”

He further enjoined the Council members to quickly hit the ground running and come up with policies and programmes that will reassure Imo people that the University that made them proud 20 years back is on track as he assured them of Government partnership in this regard.

In an acceptance speech, on behalf of the Council, the Chairman, Most Rev. Ugorji who is the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia thanked the Governor for the absolute confidence reposed in them by giving them the assignment and acknowledged that though the task is daunting he has a strong belief that with the calibre of members of the Council and support of the management, staff and students the University will be returned to a centre of excellence which was the dream of the founding fathers.

He said that Imo State University deserves the best and that he and his members as inaugurated will work acidulously to ensure that the target of the governor in making Imo State University one of the best universities in Africa is realised.

He congratulated fellow members and promised that God’s willing, they will not fail the government and people of Imo State.

Present at the inauguration were the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, and other members of the expanded State Executive Council.

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