Abubakar Shekau & Boko Haram are making headlines, but is it all good news?


After almost a year of silence, a new audio recording purportedly from Abubakar Shekau, the religious and military leader of Nigerian religious extremist group Boko Haram has surfaced, sending social media ablaze. In the video, which is rendered almost entirely in a dialect of Hausa, the person alleged to be Shekau can be heard lamenting the loss of vital ground the terrorist organization has suffered in recent months, as the Nigerian Army, even with inferior military equipment and claims of negligence from high ranking officials have managed to hold their ground. On the surface this feels like good news, worthy of celebrating.

However, there are few things worrying about this new development. The Nigerian army has not confirmed that the recording is authentic, for all we know, it could be a deep fake, mirroring Shekau and lulling Nigerian military officers and personnel into a false sense of security. While it might seem that the war is being won against Boko Haram, it underscores the reality that the Nigerian army simply has not had the kind of technical support it requires to properly rout the enemy and defeat them.

Then of course, there is the unresolved stories of Leah Sharibu, the Christian teenager from Dapchi village, the scene of a confounding case of kidnapping by Boko Haram, in which 114 or 115 girls kidnapped were returned to the town because they were Muslim and Sharibu, the only Christian was held back on the condition that she convert to Islam. The government’s inability to secure the release of a single girl, in a war that we are to believe is being won is worrying. Even more worrying is that 6 years have passed since 234 girls were kidnapped from Chibok town, 111 of whom remain in captivity till today. Shekau’s audio recording provides no closure on these cases and the thousands of other kidnapped boys and girls who have been used as suicide bombers and conscripted as child soldiers.

Is the war really being won if all we have are unverified audio files purportedly from an enemy who has time and time again proven craftier than the government that is trying to catch him?

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