16 APRIL 2022
By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah and Isaiah Benjamin
Apparently worried that their loved ones are still in kidnappers’ den, relatives of the kidnapped victims of the bandits’ attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train have warned the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) against resuming train services without rescuing their loved ones.
Dr. Abdulfatai Jimoh, leader of the kidnapped relatives, who addressed journalists on behalf of others in Kaduna yesterday, said after the expiration of the 72-hour-ultimatum handed down to the federal government, “we are happy that the government has started discussing with the abductors of our relatives.”
He however appealed to the government to speed up the process of the negotiation for the release of their loved ones by the bandits unharmed.
Jimoh, who said it had not been easy for the families since the attack, also warned the NRC against the proposed resumption of train services without first rescuing the kidnapped victims.
He said, “It is true that we gave the federal government a 72-hour ultimatum which expired yesterday (Thursday) midnight.
“We are grateful to God that before the expiration of the 72 hours, we heard from the federal government after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday through the Minister of Information that the government is already on top of the situation with what has happened.
“The NRC should not be talking about resuming their services now when our people are in captivity, because what is the assurance that if they start services now that people that will board the train are safe.
“The first thing should be to get the captives out and then they can put adequate measures in place and resume services so that this does not happen again in future,” he said.
When asked what if the NRC should go ahead to resume train service, the chairman said, “We want to believe that they won’t try it and if they do, we won’t take it lightly with them because human lives are involved. We believe they won’t. We believe they won’t because they know what’s at stake.”
But another relative, Faitma Ciroma, whose sister is among the victims, said the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, should have resigned following that attack but instead he decided to declare his intention to vie for the presidency, describing his actions as insensitive.
Kaduna Train Attack: Govt Not In Touch With Us – Victims’ Families
She called on Nigerians not to elect the likes of the minister as president in the 2023 presidential election because “he is inhuman.”
She also said, “The NRC mooting the idea of resuming train service is inhuman. It’s not good at all.
“The authorities need to sit down and think about how to rescue those in captivity and not the resumption of train service. What’s train service compared to human lives? That means human lives are not valued by the authorities?
“The minister of transportation is not helpful. Nigerians should not elect him as president. He shouldn’t be elected at all if this is what he has to offer.”
On his part, another relative, Dr. Abdulkarim Atta, said the terrorists had reached out to him 11 times, adding that the terrorists told him that they had their targets in ill-fated train and that other people were unfortunate to be taken away by them.
Atta, whose sister and 85-year-old mother are among those kidnapped, explained that he was given the opportunity by the bandits to talk to his aged mother and sister before the release of the managing director of the Bank of Agriculture, Alwan Ali-Hassan.
He added that the bandit told him that the state governor, (Malam Nasir El-Rufai) “has been running his mouth” and that’s why they came to his doorstep and that this is just the beginning.
“They said they would go further than this. I spoke with them,” he said.
Also speaking, another relative, Sani Lawal, strongly warned the NRC to perish the temptation of resuming train service when their kidnapped relations were still in captivity, in the interest of peace.
He said, “My brother, Hassan, and his sister-in-law are being held by the bandits. We are deeply concerned that the government is not showing enough concern. Up until now, no government delegation had called us to sympathise or show concern.
“Let us warn the NRC not to contemplate or attempt to resume train service without rescuing our loved ones in the den of the bandits. It is obvious that the NRC are only thinking of how to make money without even thinking on how to put in measures to forestall such incidents in the near future.
“This is the third attack on the train and if we may ask, where is the government that cannot put in adequate measures to stop a recurrence.
“The NRC should not attempt to start train service without rescuing our kidnapped victims. Nobody will wish even his enemy to be taken hostage by the bandits, because the condition they are in isn’t funny. We will not rest until the authorities do the needful by rescuing our beloved ones unhurt.”
Lawal stated that the group will continue to gather at the place until the loved ones are freed
“Let the NRC not make the mistake of resuming train service. Until then, we reserve what we are going to do,” he warned.
He added that among the captives are a pregnant woman that urgently needs caesarian operation to deliver “but at the moment she is in a condition that no one can say,” those shot by the bandits and diabetics who need medical attention.
Govs Donate N50m To Victims
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, yesterday led a two-man delegation of the Forum to Kaduna State to commiserate with the government and people of the state on the recent Abuja-Kaduna train attack in which eight people were killed, dozens were injured and several others kidnapped.
Addressing Kaduna State Governor Nasir el Rufai, the NGF chairman expressed deep sympathy to Kaduna State and its people and described the attack as mind-boggling.
Regrettably, he added, the criminals also took away some hostages which, according to the NGF chairman, raises the state of insecurity in the region.
According to a statement by the spokesman of the NGF, Abdulrazaque Bello Barkindo, the Ekiti State Governor wondered if the entire crime was the handiwork of some enemies of the state government or its governor who is transforming the state to their chagrin and are therefore working to distract the state from its path to development.
Fayemi noted that everything is currently unnecessarily revolving around 2023, the election year, which “we are not even sure we will be alive to see with the prevailing circumstances.”
He advised that more should be done towards securing the country.
He said the Northwest of the country had been a region of calm before now and emphasised that governors will continue to put their heads together along with the president to bring sanity back to the country.
Dr Fayemi also concurred with the Kaduna governor that the government needs to take proactive action by going after the bandits right in their enclaves and rooting them out.
“I agree that we as governors must join hands with the President to deal ruthlessly with the bandits, that they be crushed, as you have always advocated”, he told El-Rufai.
Reiterating that the primary purpose of government is ensuring the safety of lives and property, he noted that the impression in the minds of most Nigerians presently is that nothing is being done by the security agencies in the country to bring an end to this high spate of violence.
Before announcing a donation of N50m, the NGF chairman admonished Governor el Rufai not to relent in his efforts at building the state and told him to continue to be the leader that he has always been, concluding emphatically that regardless of whatever anyone thinks, “Nigeria is worth dying for.”
The Kaduna State governor disclosed that there were 61 Kaduna indigenes still recuperating from the train attack, including a top government official and his eight-month pregnant wife.
He further stated that the bandits were currently hiding somewhere in Niger State.
El-Rufai lamented that the attack was avoidable because the state government had tipped off the Nigeria Railways Corporation twice about the impending attack, pleading with the NRC to suspend night trains, and when it didn’t, the state government went to the minister for transportation but still the complaints were not heeded.
The Kaduna governor, who advised that the situation should not be treated with levity, also hinted that the state of things in the Northwest is worse than the Boko Haram attacks in the Northeast, adding that there is also an international dimension to it.
He thanked the NGF for its efforts and donations and wished the delegation a safe journey home.
Governor Muhammadu Badaru of Jigawa State accompanied the NGF chairman on the trip.