Shekau is on the run disguised as a woman dressed in Hijab.
In a statement signed by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman, on Tuesday, February 13, 2018, the army's operation through Operation DEEP PUNCH II has put a strain on Boko Haram's operations.
Brig-Gen Usman said that credible information from insurgents in custody indicate that Shekau is on the run disguised as a woman dressed in Hijab.
The army used the development as an opportunity to urge all Boko Haram militants to lay down their arms and surrender to troops because they're following a "coward".
The statement read, "The concerted efforts of troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE on the ongoing clearance of the Boko Haram terrorists through Operation DEEP PUNCH II has been yielding tremendous results.
"Troops have successfully been clearing Boko Haram camps in Sambisa forest including Camp Zairo.
"They have also rescued civilians being held hostages by the terrorists, recovered arms, ammunition, Improvised Explosives Devices (IED) factories and making materials as well as other equipment.
"Consequently, the terrorists are in disarray and scampering for safety while others were surrendering.
"Credible information from arrested and surrendered insurgents indicated that the purported Boko Haram terrorists group factional leader, Abubakar Shekau could not bear the heat anymore as he has abandoned his followers, he is running for his dear life.
"He is desperately trying to escape the theatre disguised as a woman dressed in Hijab. We reliably gathered that to avoid detection Abubakar Shekau alternates between blue and black coloured hijabs. He was last seen in a black hijab.
"We therefore call on all those remaining Boko Haram terrorists to know that they are following a coward moving about in hijab disguised as a woman.
"We also request all the remaining Boko Haram members to come out from hiding and lay down their arms and be treated humanely.
"While concerted efforts are ongoing to track and apprehend the fugitive terrorist leader, we implore also members of the public, especially the residents of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States to be more vigilant, security conscious and be on the look out of Abubakar Shekau and other terrorists that might disguise as women to escape."
In a video released by Boko Haram on February 6, Shekau denied the Nigerian Army's claim that the sect has been 'completely defeated'.
In the 11-minute video delivered in Hausa language, the terrorist leader said, "You, the military chief in Maiduguri, have been boasting of taking over Sambisa because you rescued women, telling lies to people. Where are the policewomen? Why didn’t you rescue them if you have indeed defeated us since it is our brethren that is holding them in the same Sambisa?
"You are busy deceiving with images of vehicles that we seized from you and abandoned for over three years and claiming that you have killed us. If you have killed us, why are we still alive?"
Shekau called on his non-combatant members across the country to join his fight from anywhere they are.
"Oh you brethren of our holy creed, wherever you are, should rise up and fight for Allah. If you cannot do it there, then come over to our side and fight for the cause of Allah. You must know that whoever that fails to follow the teaching of the Holy Quran and Hadith cannot enter paradise.
"Because the pattern of life in the world today is not Islamic. Wherever you are, even if you are in Saudi Arabia, and you have your gun, please stand up and fight, kill whoever you see that is not on our side.
"Our course is to establish our caliphate and die doing that. We may not be alive to see the caliphate but even if it comes to be after we have died, it is still a bonus on our side."
Since the insurgency of the terrorist group escalated after a 2009 crackdown by the military, Boko Haram, chiefly under the leadership of Shekau, has been responsible for the death of over 20,000 people and the displacement of more than 2.5 million scattered across Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps across the country and its neighbours.
After a massive military operation resulted in the displacement of the group from its Camp Zairo base in the infamous Sambisa Forest, it has resorted to suicide bomb attacks on soft targets and carried out daring attacks on military bases, with hundreds of captives still unaccounted for.