By announcing a mere N3million($10,000) reward for information that will lead to the arrest of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, the Nigerian military has shown he is now of limited value or danger as a terrorist.
For all intent and purposes, the bounty is a big downgrade for a terrorist who once seized 21 local councils in Nigeria and reigned in Sambisa Forest.
The bounty contrasts sharply with the $7million announced in 2013 by the United States government.
In an unprecedented move in June 2013, the United States posted up to $23 million in rewards to help track down Shekau and four leaders of militant groups accused of spreading terror in west Africa.
The highest reward of $7 million was offered for the Boko Haram leader, who days before the bounty was announced, had called on Islamists in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq to join the bloody fight to create an Islamic state in Nigeria.
The US State Department’s Rewards for Justice programme also targeted Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), offering its first ever bounties for wanted militants in west Africa.
Up to $5 million was posted for Al-Qaeda veteran Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed Islamist behind the devastating attack on an Algerian gas plant in January 2013in which 37 foreigners, including three Americans, were killed.
A further $5 million was offered for top AQIM leader Yahya Abou Al-Hammam, reportedly involved in the 2010 murder of an elderly French hostage in Niger.
Malik Abou Abdelkarim, a senior fighter with AQIM, and Oumar Ould Hamaha, the spokesman for Mali’s Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), were also targeted by the rewards program, which will give up to $3 million each for information leading to their arrests.
The US offer is still on the table for Shekau finders, according to the website of US State Department of Justice programme.
The Nigerian army announced the small bounty in a statement signed by its Spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, on Thursday.
“Anybody with such credible information can either contact the Military Command and Control Centre, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, any military location, security agencies or call the Nigerian Army Information and Call Centre 193,” Usman said.
NAN reports that the Nigerian Army had on Tuesday said that it had credible information that Shekau was now dressing as a woman in an effort to escape the Theatre of Operation.
“We reliably gathered that to avoid detection, Abubakar Shekau alternates between blue and black coloured hijabs. He was last seen in a black hijab.
“He is running for his dear life. He is desperately trying to escape the Theatre, disguises as a woman and dresses in Hijab,’’ the Army Spokesman said in a statement.