Falmata Abubakar, mother of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the terrorist organization, Boko Haram said she has not seen her son in 15 years, PM News reports.
It was gathered that Falmata granted her first media interview to VOA,
According to the VOA reporters, driving west from the city of Maiduguri, Nigeria, the roads get narrower as the towns get smaller. Along the road lie bullet-ridden buildings and security check points as vigilante members patrol gates, all signs of a region where people are trying their best to protect themselves.
After three hours VOA ends up in Yobe state, at a village called Shekau. Here, elders and community leaders take VOA to meet Falmata Abubakar, who they say is the mother of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau.
His father was a local district imam before passing away a few years ago.
Falmata said she had never spoken to journalists before VOA approached her, and she does not know where her son is hiding.
“I don’t now if he’s alive or dead. I don’t know. It’s only God who knows. For 15 years I haven’t seen him,” she said.
It was gathered that the villagers often hide the fact that they are from Abubakar Shekau’s hometown because others may fear they have Boko Haram connections.
Falmata says her son Shekau left as a boy to continue his Islamic education in Maiduguri, a center of religious studies for hundreds of years.
Shekau was an almajiri. In the generations-old tradition, almajirai are sent off by their parents to study the Quran in schools locally known as a tsangaya, where a teacher coaches the dozens, sometimes hundreds of male students, to memorize the entire Quran.
Almajirai beg on the streets for food, and it is believed that Shekau did the same. At some point in his studies, Shekau, according to his mother, met Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram, who condemned Western education as sinful. Falmata says her son was brainwashed.
Falmata said; “Since Shekau met with Mohammed Yusuf, I didn’t see him again,” she told VOA.
“Yes, he’s my son and every mother loves her son, but we have different characters,” she said.
“He brought a lot of problem to many people. Where can I meet him to tell him that these things he is doing is very bad? He brought many problems to many people, but I am praying for God to show him the good way.”
Mohammed Yusuf was killed by Nigerian security agents in 2009, and Abubakar Shekau then took over as the leader.
Shekau is accused of leading an insurgency that has killed more than 30,000 people in northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region.
Falmata says she can never curse her son, but he has become someone who she doesn’t recognize anymore.
“He just took his own character and went away,” she said. “This is not the character I gave him. I don’t know what this type of behavior is. It’s only God who knows.”