Shekau: This is where Boko Haram leader is hiding
The military and vigilante groups fighting Boko Haram on the ground have homed in on the exact location where Shekau may be hiding
Boko Haram kingpin, Abubakar Shekau, made it out of Sambisa Forest alive, as troops swooped on the dense expanse of vegetation hours before Christmas morning.
Aerial footage of the moment when Sambisa fell to the Nigerian Army showed Boko Haram fighters and hordes of captives taking to their heels as fast as their legs could carry them.
Among the fleeing lot was Shekau, the military believes.
According to Major General Lucky Irabor who is the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole (the code name for the operation against the terrorists), Shekau left behind his Quran and flag as he made good his escape from Sambisa.
"We believe that the Holy Book and the flag were abandoned by Abubakar Shekau while he escaped. The Book will be taken to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Burutai, for onward presentation to Mr President", said Irabor.
While hundreds of Boko Haram fighters were killed by the soldiers, a handful managed to escape the military onslaught.
Where exactly did Shekau and his Boko Haram fighters run to?
"They were sighted in large numbers in … the Kala-Balge area,” one vigilante who helped in the fight against the insurgents, told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Kale-Balge is a region near Cameroon.
Most of the Boko Haram fighters who escaped from Sambisa have now found shelter on the Lake Chad which straddles Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
Abubakar Gamandi who is a fisherman in the Lake Chad region told AFP that the area provides a “convenient sanctuary” for terrorists with its 400 islets covered with dense vegetation that makes aerial detection and ground operations dangerous.
Military authorities and civilians in the region say Shekau is hiding somewhere between the Nigerian border with Cameroon and the Lake Chad.
Local vigilante say they’ve witnessed terrorists who were dislodged from Sambisa, setting up camp in Kala-Balge.
It is believed that Kala-Balge is where Shekau shot his latest video in which he was seen boasting about his elusiveness and invincibility.
“We are safe. We have not been flushed out of anywhere,” Shekau boasted in his video.
While Sambisa has been taken, military sources say Kala-Balge may just be the next battleground, with Cameroon doing its bit to make sure the fleeing terrorists do not spill into its territory–a near impossible task.
“Cameroon has upped security along the border which has forced fleeing Boko Haram (fighters) to head to Kala-Balge, where Nigerian troops are deploying”, one vigilante told AFP.
“Kala-Balge may be the next battleground,” said Umar Ari, a local trader.
According to latest reports, Shekau escaped with the rest of the abducted Chibok girls who hadn’t been handed over to the federal government of Nigeria.
Boko Haram has been treating the Chibok Girls as prized assets and as bargaining tools in negotiations with the Nigerian authorities.
The military believes it is moments away from nabbing the loquacious Boko Haram leader.
“We are closing in on Shekau and his remaining commanders. It is just a matter of time before we get him, dead or alive”, one military officer disclosed to AFP.