Chadian President, Idris Deby, who earlier this year was quoted as saying he knew the whereabouts of wanted Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, has backtracked on his claim while also insisting on keeping any possible knowledge of the location of the terrorist to himself.“I cannot tell you today that I know where Shekau is hiding and even if I knew I won’t tell you,” president Deby told journalists on Monday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
President Deby spoke after a meeting with Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Chadian President stated that the war against Boko Haram had not yet been totally won because Chad and Nigeria were not working together on the field.
He said it was regrettable that the “two armies that is the Nigerian army and the Chadian Army are working separately in the field”.
“They are not undertaking joint operation,” he said. “If they were operating joint operation probably they would have achieved more results.”
Mr. Deby had, sometime in March, accused Nigeria of downplaying the threat from Boko Haram and failing to cooperate with the regional coalition battling the jihadists, saying there had been zero contact between their armies.
Chad, Cameroon and Niger were believed to have also joined forces since January to battle Boko Haram, whose insurgency has claimed more than 13,000 lives in northern Nigeria since 2009.
The Chadian President at the time said he was baffled by the Nigerian government’s lack of cooperation with the offensive.
“Two months after the start of this war, we have not had any direct contact with the Nigerian army units on the ground,” he had told the French weekly.
In his response to journalists at the State House Abuja, the Chadian President said it was important for him to come to discuss with the Nigerian President as he leaves office to review “what we did together, what we achieved together in the fight against Boko Haram”.
He further stated that it is true that Boko Haram has not been completely eradicated.
“But they have been tremendously weakened,” he said. “I did not want to wait and come during the inauguration of the new government. I thought I should come to consult with Mr. President, to congratulate him and to have this exchange and have overview of what we have been able to achieve in the fight against Boko Haram”.
Chad, one of Nigeria’s closest neighbours has been involved in the fight against Boko Haram as it is also being affected by the insurgency.
Responding to questions on the multinational task force fighting in Lake Chad, he explained, “In the Lake Chad Basin, there are four countries Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Niger that are currently securing the area. The four countries have managed to form a multinational mixed force that will metamorphose to what is probably known as a Rapid Response Force that the African Union is trying to form for Africa.”
On the 2015 general elections, Mr. Deby congratulated Mr. Jonathan for the show of statesmanship demonstrated during the elections.
“We all know that elections in Africa is always contested but Mr. President demonstrated a lot of statesmanship, that he is a real democrat by conceding and congratulating the President-elect,” he said.
“You all know that when Nigeria sneezes, the neighbouring countries catch cold. If Mr. President had not taken that laudable initiative you all know what would have happened now. Nigeria is still living in peace, you all are living in peace and that would not have happened but for that laudable initiative he took.
“So I came to congratulate him for leaving a legacy not only for Nigeria but for Africa as a whole”.