Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has appeared in a video denying Nigerian government claims that the insurgent group has been chased out of its Sambisa forest stronghold.
Shekau said it was recorded on Christmas Day, December 25, but did not say where. He spoke in both Hausa and Arabic.
“We are safe. We have not been flushed out of anywhere. And tactics and strategies cannot reveal our location except if Allah wills by his decree,” Shekau said, flanked by armed fighters.
President Muhammadu Buhari said on December 23 that the Nigerian army had captured a Boko Haram camp in the Sambisa forest, one of the jihadist group's last strongholds in the country.
“You should not be telling lies to the people,” Shekau said, referring to Buhari’s claims.
“If you indeed crushed us, how can you see me like this? How many times have you killed us in your bogus death?” he asked.
Buhari said the capture of Camp Zero marked the "final crushing of Boko Haram terrorists in their last enclave in Sambisa forest" in a statement, following a months-long campaign in the 1,300-square-kilometer forest located in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno.
The Boko Haram leader also distributed a video in September disputing a claim that he had been wounded in battle by Nigerian military forces.
“Our aim is to establish an Islamic Caliphate and we have our own Caliphate, we are not part of Nigeria,” he said.
He also vowed to fight until an Islamic state was imposed in northern Nigeria.
On Tuesday, Brigadier General Victor Ezugwu, an army commander, told the Al Jazeera news channel that his soldiers had made significant gains against Boko Haram.
"We are on top of the situation, all hands are still on deck," Ezugwu told Al Jazeera. "This defeat is final and it [Boko Haram] will not spread to other parts of West Africa."
Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks recently, after a months-long pause in their seven-year uprising that has killed more than 20,000 people. The conflict has triggered a humanitarian crisis.