The Nigerian Army on Sunday said it had uncovered plot by Boko Haram insurgents to win public sympathy through the unconditional release of rustled cattle to the owners.
In a statement, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, reported the Theater Commander, Maj.-Gen. Benson Akinroluyo, as disclosing that the insurgents deceived people by voluntarily returning cattle, hitherto rustled from the owners in the northeast.
Nwachukwu disclosed that the Commander raised the alarm while addressing troops of Sector 2 during a three-day operational tour conducted between Jan. 31 and February 2.
“Boko Haram terrorists now engage in cattle rustling and later return the rustled cattle to their owners, thereby deceitfully creating the impression of Good Samaritan and presenting themselves as protector of the people.”
Nwachukwu described the gimmick as dangerous ploy, stressing that the trend must be checked to avoid escalation.
He tasked the troops to prevent any form of cattle rustling by the insurgents, noting that they now used it as a means of psychological warfare to make the locals see them in positive light and be receptive to their ideology.
The commander also called on community and opinion leaders to educate members of their communities on the development.
“You must be vigilant and not fall for the antics of the terrorists; cattle rustling has earlier been identified as a means of raising funds for Boko Haram terrorists.
“Now they invented deceit by first stealing the cattle and later returning same to their owners to make the locals believe they are pious and possibly turn blind eyes to their nefarious activities”
The army therefore, called on the youth not to shun the insurgents’ propaganda and not to be persuaded to join the group, describing them as enemy of the people.
The Theatre Commander, accompanied by the Commander Sector 2, Brig.- Gen. Mohammed Dala, also visited the troops at the Nigerian Army Special Forces School and 27 Task Force Brigade in Buni Yadi, as well as 159 and 233 Battalions at Geidam and Damaturu
According to him, the military authorities accords priority to address operational challenges and improvement of the troops’ welfare.