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.
Concealing their hometown