Lagos – Nigeria’s army has released a poster of its 100 “most wanted” Boko Haram suspects, appealing to the public for information about their whereabouts.
The poster, published in English and the local languages of Hausa and Kanuri, and with three hotline numbers, was launched on Wednesday in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.
“We want names and other information about them,” army spokesperson Colonel Sani Usman told AFP in a text message on Thursday.
Boko Haram’s shadowy leader Abubakar Shekau features twice in the rows of colour photographs but there was no immediate explanation about the duplication.
However, Nigeria’s military has long claimed that Shekau – notorious for his rambling monologues and threats against civilian leaders – is a “nom de guerre” for a number of lookalikes.
The authorities have claimed he has been killed on at least three occasions, only for him to appear in a video soon afterwards to taunt defence chiefs.
He was last seen on camera in February threatening to disrupt Nigeria’s presidential elections but has since only been heard on audio messages, including pledging allegiance to the so-called Islamic State group.
The “most wanted” poster is the latest military drive against the militants, as it tries to meet a December deadline to bring the six-year insurgency to a close.
Human intelligence has long been seen as key to stopping the group’s activities but has been hindered by military abuses against civilians, including arbitrary detention, according to human rights groups.
Sleeper cells are said to be active in Maiduguri, despite heavy security, given the number of times it has been attacked by suicide and bomb attacks in recent weeks.
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