Nigerian army on Sunday said it had uncovered a plot by Boko Haram insurgents to win public sympathy through the unconditional release of rustled cattle to the owners.
Army spokesperson Onyema Nwachukwu quoted in a statement the Theater Commander Benson Akinroluyo as saying 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 during a three-day operational tour conducted between Jan. 31 and Feb. 2.
He described the gimmick as a 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.
Boko Haram has been trying since 2009 to establish an Islamic state in northeastern Nigeria, killing some 20,000 people and forcing displacement of millions of others.
The jihadist militant organization is based in northeastern Nigeria, and also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon. Enditem