The leader of Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, said in a video released on social media on 17 February that the group would target the country's election process scheduled for 28 March.

The presidential election has already been postponed from its initial date of 14 February due to security concerns.

In the video, monitored by the US-based SITE Intelligence Group, Shekau threatened to disrupt upcoming elections and condemned regional governments for not following Sharia law.

"You are claiming that we don't know how to fight, but we forced your forces to flee from their bases and we freed our imprisoned brothers from the prisons that you oppressed them in, only praise be to Allah. And these words is our reply to the current issues that people are talking about.

"And finally we say that these elections that you are planning to do, will not happen in peace, even if that costs us our lives. Allah will not leave you to proceed with these elections even after us, because you are saying that authority is from people to people, which means that people should rule each other, but Allah says that the authority is only to him, only his rule is the one which applies on this land," he said.

Shekau's video was titled A Message To The leaders Of The Disbelievers and he took aim at the leaderships of regional countries who are co-ordinating efforts against the Islamist group.

"O you the Prime Minister of Niger and whomever is with you, O you Idriss Deby the president of Chad and his minister and whomever that is with him, all of you had created a constitution that is organised with numbers and pages, and you established it as a rule of your government, and you made the people to follow it, you made them follow it by force, you made them fear your aircrafts, and you jailed whoever that opposes you.

"And you now are following and listening to Francois Hollande and you are imposing the rule of French people. And after all of what who allowed you to make some people disbelievers? Who allowed you to say that 'Jama'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wa wa'l-Jihad' are not Muslims? You are falsifying the words of Allah, and nobody can make Takfir [saying others are disbelievers] unless there is clear evidence that he is a disbeliever," Shekau said.

Shekau peppered his video message with references from Islam's holy book the Quran, to justify his group's actions. He cited verses demanding Muslims not co-operate with Christians and Jews in a bid to increase his group's legitimacy among Muslims after Boko Haram's actions have shocked many.

Shekau warned Muslims not to side with foreign powers and the government in Abuja against the group, telling them that they would be considered legitimate targets for the group.

"And so, this message is not a message of declaring a war, but a call for you to listen and obey Allah. Don't gather in the masjids, and remember the Koran and be part of those who oppose him at the same time. And because of that, we are calling you, whomever that comes and repent to Allah, and support His religion, His book and the Sunnah of His Prophet, we consider him as a brother to us.

"And to whomever that supports Francois Hollande and Obama, as they supported Bush and Clinton before, and supported the state of Jewish Israel, and supports the nation of disbelievers, he is an enemy to us and a target to our forces, and we will enslave him and sell him in the markets," he said.

Reuters could not immediately verify the video.

Boko Haram killed an estimated 10,000 people last year in its campaign to carve an Islamist emirate from northern Nigeria.