Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj-Gen. Benson Akinroluyo, has disclosed that Boko Haram has adopted a strategy to win public sympathy.
According to him, the insurgents’ new strategy is the ‘unconditional release’ of rustled cattle to rightful owners in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
Spokesman of the command, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said this in a statement yesterday in Maiduguri.
He said: “The Boko Haram insurgents deceived people by voluntarily returning cattle, hitherto rustled from the owners in the Northeast states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
“Our commander raised the alarm while addressing troops of Sector 2 during a three-day operational tour conducted from January 31 to
February 2, 2019.
He informed that the Army uncovered the employment of deception by Boko Haram terrorists to win the confidence and support of locals in the insurgency affected states.
He said the terrorists now engage in cattle rustling, which they later return to their owners, thereby deceitfully creating the impression of being Good Samaritan and presenting themselves as protectors of the people and communities.
Akinroluyo described the gimmick as a dangerous ploy, warning that the trend must be checked to avoid escalation, while tasking the troops to prevent any form of cattle rustling by the insurgents.
He described the strategy as a “psychological warfare” to make the locals see them in positive light and be receptive to their ideology.
The commander called on community and opinion leaders to educate their members on this newly adopted strategies of terrorism.
“You must be vigilant and not fall for the antics of the terrorists. Cattle rustling had earlier been identified as a means of raising funds for Boko Haram terrorists.
“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,” he said.
The army called on youths to shun the insurgents’ propaganda and refuse to be persuaded to join the group, describing them as enemies of the people living in various communities of the affected states.