The President of Chad, Idriss Deby, says Boko Haram has picked a new leader, fuelling speculation that Abubakar Shekau, the leader, might have been killed.
Deby, however, did not say what had happened to Shekau, but disclosed that the face of Boko Haram had been replaced by Mahamat Daoud who has not been heard of before.
Shekau has been missing in the group’s videos in the last five months, lending credence to the belief that he had been killed.
A picture in the TheCable online shows the dead body of Shekau in a place identified as Sambisa forest, but a military spokesman said he could neither deny nor confirm the claim.
The insurgents had always refuted the reports of his demise in which security forces claimed to have silenced him.
In a video he released in October, Shekau taunted the military saying he has “one soul”. “Here I am, alive. I will only die the day Allah takes my breath. I am running our… Islamic caliphate and administering sharia punishments,” he had said.
“Nothing will kill me until my days are over… I’m still alive. Some people asked you if Shekau has two souls. No, I have one soul, by Allah.
“It is propaganda that is prevalent. I have one soul. I’m an Islamic student. I’m the Islamic student whose seminary you burnt… I’m not dead,” he was quoted as saying.
Shekau was last heard of in March when he announced Boko Haram’s alliance to the Islamic State (IS). a A Nigerian journalist, Ahmad Sakilda, known to have access to commanders of the sect, had predicted that Shekau could be replaced as a result of the IS deal.