Shekau denies leadership rift, reaffirms total control of Boko Haram

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), yesterday, reported that the disputed leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, has said he is still in charge of the sect; despite a statement by so-called Islamic State (IS) that he had been replaced.

Shekau denounced the IS declaration that Abu Musab al-Barnawi is now leader and accused al-Barnawi of trying to stage a coup against him.

In the last 18 months, Boko Haram has lost most of the territory it had controlled; after being pushed back by an offensive by the forces of Nigeria and its neighbours.

Boko Haram aligned itself with IS in March 2015.

Shekau was last heard from in an audio message last August, where he affirmed he was alive and had not been replaced-an IS video released in April said the same.

In a 10-minute audio message in Arabic and Hausa, Shekau appeared to distance Boko Haram from IS but still called its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi caliph.

The BBC did not state when the clip was recorded.

He said that some in Boko Haram had stopped him communicating with al-Baghdadi.

“I was asked to send my ideology in writing to the Caliph but it was manipulated by some people, in order to achieve their own selfish interests,” he added, and described that move as a coup attempt against him.

Shekau, according to the BBC, said he had sent eight different letters to IS leaders but they did not act on them, only to hear the news that he had been replaced.

He then described al-Barnawi and his followers as polytheist. Boko Haram has split before but this is the most serious division to date.


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