The military on Friday dismissed claims that a
man beheaded by Boko Haram fighters in the group's
latest video was an air force pilot in a fighter jet that went
missing three weeks ago.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau had claimed in the
footage obtained by AFP on Thursday that militants shot
down the Alpha Jet and showed wreckage of an aircraft
which included the Nigerian Air Force's green and white
A man, wearing a camouflage print T-shirt and with a
heavily bandaged hand in a sling, was seen later kneeling
in front of an unmasked Boko Haram fighter in combat
fatigues and saying in English that he was one of the
He appears to give his name, rank and date of birth but
the video is inaudible. He is killed after he finishes
Asked directly about whether the man was an air force
pilot, as claimed, spokesman Air Commodore Dele Alonge
told AFP: "The man shown in the Boko Haram video is not
"The picture of a man beheaded in the video is
superimposed," he said without elaborating. "Our plane is
still missing and we are looking for it. Boko Haram is just
making unfounded claims."
AFP asked the same question to defence spokesman Major
General Chris Olukolade, who announced last week that
Shekau was dead.
He said: "No level or amount of barbaric display of bestial
atrocities will distract the Nigerian military from sustaining
the tempo of ongoing operations to decimate, degrade and
bring the remnants of the terrorists already in disarray to
"The campaign against terror is still recording the expected
result in the front. Nigerians should not despair," he said
in a text message that was repeated on his Twitter
Nigeria's military has been under pressure to reverse Boko
Haram territorial gains in three northeast states in recent
months, with reports that soldiers have fled militant
attacks and complaints about a lack of adequate
According to one security analyst who tracks the conflict,
the Alpha Jet sent a signal that it had been hit and the two
pilots' families met air force officers in the days that
followed and were told it had crashed.
The jet came down in the heart of rebel-held territory,
making search and rescue impossible, he added.
In the video, Shekau is seen on the back of a pick-up truck
firing a powerful anti-aircraft gun and boasting about
other aircraft Boko Haram has shot down.