The Nigerian army issued a poster featuring 100 photos of most-wanted Boko Haram suspects on Wednesday, including the alleged leader of the militant group, Abubakar Shekau. As part of its anti-terrorism efforts to rout Boko Haram from northern Nigeria, the military urged the public to call hotlines if any of the pictured suspects were spotted.
“The fight against Boko Haram insurgency [is] a collective responsibility of all, including the media,” chief of army staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai said Wednesday from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, according to Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper. Buratai said the poster will be circulated across the country to help hunt down members of the group.
Most of the Boko Haram suspects declared by the army were teens. Shekau appears twice on the poster, despite previous claims by the Nigerian army that he had been killed and a statement by Chad’s President Idriss Deby in August that Boko Haram had a new leader who was willing to negotiate, according to BBC News.
— BBC Africa (@BBCAfrica) October 29, 2015
The Nigerian army is approaching a December deadline to end Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency. But the target date has been largely deemed unrealistic. Former military head of state Yakubu Gowon said he has “absolute confidence” in the army to defeat the militants, but it may not happen within the declared time frame.
“I can tell you this, nobody can really talk about when any particular operation is going to end. And as a [former] commander in chief, I know this,” Gowon said Tuesday, according to Premium Times. “Yes, you can say you target a particular time, but it may finish before that time or it may go slightly beyond. To end it, that is the most important thing.”
Since taking office in May, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has made defeating Boko Haram a top priority. The military has claimed successful rescue and raid operations in recent months against the group, which seeks to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamic state. However, Boko Haram, which has killed thousands and displaced 2.1 million people since 2009, continues to carry out attacks and claim lives.
The militants have unleashed a wave of attacks in northern Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon and Chad since Buhari’s inauguration. The Islamic extremist group killed an estimated 800 Nigerian citizens during the president’s first 100 days in office, according to Buharimeter, a platform run by the Centre for Democracy and Development that tracks progress on electoral promises made by the president.