Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s elusive leader, released an audio tape on Sunday denying claims that he had been killed or replaced as chief of the militant group.
“The infidel media has reported that I'm dead or sick and cannot speak. This is false," Shekau asserts in the short audio message.
The message is addressed to Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi, chief of the Daesh militant group, to whom the Boko Haram leader pledged allegiance last March.
In the message, Shekau insists he is still at the helm of the notorious group.
The message was a clear rebuttal of recent claims by Chadian leader Idriss Deby that Shekau had been replaced by another militant, Mahamat Daoud.
At a recent news briefing held to mark Chad's 55th independence anniversary, Deby told reporters: “There is someone called Mahamat Daoud who is said to have replaced Abubakar Shekau and who wants to negotiate with the Nigerian government.”
Ahmad Salkida, an independent Nigerian journalist who closely follows Boko Haram, said via Twitter on Saturday night that Shekau was indeed alive.
"Idris Deby is wrong now as before when he deceived former President [Goodluck] Jonathan about phantom negotiations,” Salkida tweeted.
Last October, Nigeria hastily announced a ceasefire in its fight against the Boko Haram insurgency following a peace deal that had allegedly been brokered by Deby.
Shekau, however, subsequently denied that his group had entered into any negotiations with Abuja.