By Suleiman Umaru
Between 2016 and now, there had been a major rivalry between the Inslamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram, led by Abubakar Shekau and Abu Musab- Barnawi, the Leader of the Islamic State of West Africa, ISWAP over Shekau’s failure to adhere strictly to the guidance of o the Leadership of the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria, ISIS or Daesh. Abu Bakral Baghdadi, the Daesh leader, who was said to have endorsed the alliance with the late Shekau led BokoHaram had described the Group as ‘’Our Jihadi Brothers’’ to show the closeness and their readiness to fund it its operations in Nigeriria
This may have informed why Bkoharam , popular, in Islamic circles as al-Isl?miya Gharb Afr?qu, was rebranded as ‘’the Wil?yatal-IsI?miyya, or the Islamic State in West African Province, ISWAP but a crack in its Leadership became pronounced in 2016.
A large group of the old BokoHaram members who could no longer gurantee their Loyalty to Shekau were said to have followed may have followed al-Barnawi, one of the top Commanders of BokoHaram, who was opposed to Shekau for not following the Daesh Leadership instruction in prosecuting the Jihadist war in the north east states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe to nurture ISWAP.
the Daeshi Leadership may have created much problem for Shekau when it named al-Barnawi as the new Leader of ISWAP, meaning that Shekau , was no longer recognized by ISIS in Syria and the Islamic State Of Iraq, Leadership Leader of the Nigeria based Terrorist, group, BokoHaram but he dares to Challege the Iraq and Syria terrorist groups by insisting that no person could force him to step down. He got it wrong as the ISIS and the Islamic State of Iraq, backed Nigeria ISWAP, were determined to force hi out.
Although the two terroup groups which are based in different Locations in the north east region have been carring out attacks in in Communities in Borno and Yobe states and displacing thousands of people.
it was a matter of time for the rivalry between the terrorist Groups to play out. Note that the Shekau led Boko Haram are based in the Sambisa forest while ISWAP, which fighters are armed with the stolen weapons from the North African country of Libya, are based in the Lake Chad region, bordering Nigeria, Chad, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroon.
There are indications that the ISWAP Leadership may have been prosecuting the Jihadist war in the north east geopolitical region according the instruction of the Daesh Leadership , as it had continued to attack military bases and the soldiers, since 2016. This may not have been the style of the Shekau led BokoHaram. Even Bashir Magashi, a retired Major General and minister of Defence had seen the al-Barnawi led IWAP, as the major dominant threat to Nigeria because of the attack on military bases in Borno and Yobe states as well as ambush on soldiers.
Unknown to many, al-Barnawi, who was one of the top Commanders of the Old BokoHaram from foundation, before parting ways with Shekau in 2016. Reports had it that he Commands a large following andhad been plotting on how to eliminate the BokoHaram Leader and Collapse BokoHaram the Group into ISWAP, to strengthen its Jihadist war in the north east, and possibly turn it to another Iraq or Syria. Al-Barnawi and his Loyalists may have had their way as they took the battle to the Sambisa forest on Wednesday, May 19, 2020, to Confront Shekau frontally in a gun dual to force him to surrender. They may have had a plan B: to capture him live and excute him. He may have known the implication of being captured by ISWAP fighters who were said to have subdued his bodyguards in a gun battle to force him to surrender.
There are two accounts about the outcome of the gun battle between the two rival groups One account had it that he shot himself on the chest and bullet pierced his shoulder, thus getting him badly injured. Some of his bodyguards were said to have escaped with him to an unknon destination.
Another account of the gun battle between the two rival terrorist groups indicates that ISWAP fighters had the upper hand, which was said to have led to blowing up himself and some of his bodyguards in the sambisa forest. This appears to have made ISWAP , the only terrorist group in the country for now which the Nigerian military and the Multi-national Joint Task Force, MJTF, had to contend with for now in the north east.
Given the aggressiveness of the ISWAP fighters, who Nasir el –Rufai, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and now governor of Kaduna state, said had expanded their activities to the north west state even , may have informed why the Bandits who are working closely with the group are making a head way in their attacks and kidnapping operations for ransom in the state.
Bello Abubakar, the governor of Niger, home state of Ibrahim Babangida, a former military President and Abudusalami Abubakar, a former Head of state, who incidentally are both retired Generals , had cried out to President Muhammadu Buhari to come to the rescue the state from the ISWAP fighters who were said to have taken over the Shiroro Local government Area of the state and making life difficult for the people.
The argument in both official and unofficial circles was that if the ISWAP fighters could facilitate the alleged death of Sheaku, who the Nigeria Military had claimed to have killed several times, it clearly shows that it was the ISWAP Loyalists and fighters that had been the major problem to the Nigeria military and the MNJTF, set up by the governments of Nigeria,TChad, Niger and Cameroon and not really the Shekau led terrorist Group as being speculated in several quarters.
Many believe that with the alleged death of the BokoHaram Leader, which security experts see as a big blow to the Jihadists fighters in Nigeria, the days of the Iraq and Syria backed ISWAP are numbered. This is because Ibrahim Attahiru, a Lt .General and Chief of Army Staff and the Operation Hadin Kai Commanders in Borno and Yobe states may be forced to go back to the drawing board to restragise on the anti-Jihadist war in the north geo-political region.
The alleged death of the BokoHaram Leader, , they said, may have been made possibleby Mahatama Idris Derby, an Army General and Chairman of the ruling Military Council in TChad, and who is incidentally the country’s maximum ruler, following the death of the country’ former President, Idris Derby Itno, a Marshall.
Recall that he had visited had visited the Katsina state born Nigerian President at the Presidential Villa, last week where he had mad a Promise to support the Nigerian government in the anti-Jihadist war in the country. Unconfirmed reports had it that the Tchadian Leader may have used mercenaries to penetrate ranks off the BokOharam fighters who may have created the enabling environment for the ISWAP agents to raid the Sambiasa forest in order to Capture Shekau and thus, put an end to the crisis within the region.
The Nigeria military has not reacted to the al.leged death of the warlord to avoid playing into the hands of the ISWAP agents as they could still come together to form another formidable group to sustain the insurgency war in the north east. Abdullahi Yerima a Major General and Army spokesperson who is skeptical about the reports making the rounds that BokoHaram war lord’s death had said that the army is still investigating the claims but he sarcastically said that if it is true that he died from the bullet wounds sustaine from the gun battle with ISAP, fighters, ‘’it would be a big blow to the BokoHaram faction which had already been weakened by the military air and land strikesand defections by his men to IWAP.
Note that more than 36, 000 people have been killed since the outbreak of the insurgency in the north east in 2009 millions of others rendered hoes in the north east. More worrisome was the fact the fighting which had stated in Nigerian 2009, had spread to Tchad, Niger and Cameroon