Reports of Boko Haram leader’s frail health fuel talk of his inability to lead

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in the past.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in the past.

Questions are emerging about the ability of Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau to lead the dreaded jihadist group, as talk of him being in seriously ill surface – again.

AFP news agency reports – quoting unnamed sources – that Shekau has a range of conditions which have left him “too weak to be in charge” of the jihadists, whose near-decade insurgency has killed more than 20,000 in Nigeria.

“He has high blood pressure and failing sight from diabetes-related complications,” AFP quotes one source.

Another source, a senior security personnel tracking the conflict, described Shekau’s diabetes as “debilitating”.

“He suffers from diminished eyesight from cataracts or glaucoma as a result of diabetes,” the source said.

Shekau’s limited appearances on video publications from the militant group have continued to raise questions of his health condition, talks also fuelled a split in the jihadist group.

Boko Haram split in mid-2016 over what was reported to be “ideological differences”.

In the past, Nigerian security authorities on three occasions claimed they had killed Shekau, and that he had been replaced by lookalikes.

The militant group however dismissed the claims, publishing videos showing Shekau still in charge.

Shekau’s last appearance on camera was in a 14-minute video released on February 6 in which he claimed responsibility for attacks in Borno state capital, Maiduguri, and other towns.