THE disputed leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, has said he is still in charge of the dreaded group.
Shekau spoke in response to a statement by the Islamic State (IS) that he had been replaced by the spokesman of the group, Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
The position of the IS was contained in an edition of one of its magazines, but Shekau denounced the IS declaration that al-Barnawi was now the leader of the group.
Shekau accused al-Barnawi of trying to stage a coup against him.
In a 10-minute audio message in both Arabic and Hausa, Shekau appeared to distance Boko Haram from IS, but still called its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, “caliph”.
He said some Boko Haram members had stopped him from communicating with al-Baghdadi.
He said: “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.”
Shekau 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 described al-Barnawi and his followers as polytheist.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has described as cheap propaganda, the report that ISIS has appointed a new leader for Boko Haram.
It said it was too late to employ such tactics to revive the defeated Nigerian terrorist organisation.
According to reports, ISIS, to which Boko Haram is affiliated, had named Abu Musab Al-Barnawi as the new leader of Boko Haram.
However, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said in his remarks at the ongoing All Nigerian Conference of Editors (ANEC) 2016 in Port Harcourt, on Thursday, that the report was cheap propaganda.
Segun Adeyemi, who is Special Assistant to the Minister on Media, confirmed the government’s position to the Nigerian Tribune via email.
He quoted the minister as having said that “by the way, don’t believe the cheap propaganda by the global terrorist group, ISIS, which has reportedly named a new leader for Boko Haram.
“Our gallant military has put Boko Haram on the run and nothing will bring back the terrorists, not even the wishful thinking by ISIS.”