Amid conflicting reports over who is in control – between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram – of the second largest town in Borno State, Bama, the insurgent group has claimed that it is in firm control of the area and vowed not to give up in its attempt to annex more territory.
Members of the Boko Haram sect had two weeks ago invaded Bama, killing several people and destroying property, thus forcing residents to flee to Maiduguri.
However, the Nigerian military launched a counter-attack to reclaim the town using Nigerian Air Force fighter jets to destroy the insurgents’ hide-outs and demobilize some of their transport systems while infantry troops made ground incursions.
The Defence Headquarters had tweeted that it was doing “everything necessary” to stop the insurgents from taking total control of the city even as reports indicated that Boko Haram suffered heavy casualty in the process.
However, in a 30-second audio on Monday, a man who claimed to be Abu Zinnira, a long forgotten spokesperson of Boko Haram, debunked the military’s claim that it had retaken Bama.
Abu Zinnira last spoke for the sect two years ago and it could not be ascertained if the man who spoke yesterday in the audio was indeed the same Abu Zinnira who used to speak for the sect.
In the audio message recorded in Hausa, Zinnira said: “(This is the) public enlightenment unit of the Jama’atu Ahlil Sunnah lil Da’awati wal Jihad on the Nigerian government numerous lies over our activities, particularly the recent operation we carried out in Bama town.
“We want all people to know that, by Allah, Bama is under our control. Michika is under our control. Not only Michika, areas up to Mararraban Mubi are under our control.
“And these areas would remain under our control, God willing. And from there, we are moving forward not retreating. We want all people to know. This is from Abu Zinnira, on behalf of our brethren, simple!”
This is the latest message from the Boko Haram sect since its leader, Abubakar Shekau appeared in a video clip last month proclaiming Gwoza as part of an Islamic caliphate.