Nigeria – The national leader of the extremist Boko Haram sect, Abubakar Shekau, has narrowly escaped arrest in Kano when a joint security team stormed an apartment in the Naibawa Darnamawa area of the city, where he had for long been hiding.
Mr. Shekau, multiple security sources told Premium Times, had rented the apartment in the name of one of his lieutenants, Mohammed Aliyu (alias Hamza), but lived there with his family.
But sometimes in mid December 2011, a combined team of the State Security Service, the Nigerian Army, and the Police stormed the apartment after the SSS had placed it under 24 hour surveillance for several days.
Mr. Shekau, our sources who were part of the operation said, was almost captured when fully armed members of the sect launched a vicious attack on the security team, gunning down three police officers on the spot.
While the exchange of fire between the security team and the insurgents lasted, a Golf car with registration number, AE 913 TBW, zoomed into the compound.
In a jiffy, Mr. Shekau and his family members were rushed into the car and chauffeured off. As soon as the car sped off, the sect members, who engaged the security team, withdrew and fled in different directions.
One sect member was killed in the operation, two escaped with bullet injuries while one Suleiman Gambo (alias Babangida) was arrested.
A search on the apartment yielded what our sources describe as a suicide vehicle loaded with bomb.
The Golf car used in ferrying Mr. Shekau away was later recovered from Mr. Gambo’s apartment in Sokoto.
On December 23, the team traced the Boko Haram leader to a house at Mando area of Kaduna, and to another apartment at Badarawa area of the city.
The house at Badarawa was put under surveillance by the SSS before the joint security team stormed it in full force on December 26.
However, the team found no one in the apartment as Mr. Shekau was believed to have left the house two days earlier, suggesting that he got intelligence he was being trailed.
A search conducted on the apartment led to the recovery of large quantity of GSM recharge/sim cards, face masks, vital bank documents and suicide bombers’ notes.
Mr. Shekau’s location has remained unknown since he narrowly escaped arrest in Kano, and then Kaduna.
Security sources believe he had since moved across the border and now keeps moving between Niger, Chad and Cameroon where he issues instructions to his members to wreck havoc on security installations places of worship and innocent citizens.
Top security officials contacted Friday were reluctant to comment for this story.
“Investigation into this matter is on, and we don’t want to say anything that will jeopardize efforts being made to track the Boko Haram leader down,” one official said.