Still on the Rescue of 23 Train Captives
By Abdulsalam Mahmud
The train attack of March 28, 2022, was one that clearly illustrated the deteriorating level of insecurity in the country. Before the gruesome incident, armed bandits and terrorists, in particular, reign supreme in the North West, and Central, together with the North East.
During the March 28 attack on a Kaduna-Abuja coach, at least eight passengers were killed in the incident, while 168 others were kidnapped or declared missing.
It was the second time the rail line between Abuja and Kaduna would be the target of bandits. President Muhammadu Buhari, while reacting to the incident, had described the attack as ‘callous’ and a matter of grave concern.
He also gave a directive to security chiefs to hunt down the terrorists and rescue those abducted. In a statement by his spokesperson, Garba Shehu, the president directed that a system be put in place to prevent such attacks in future.
“President Buhari has directed the immediate conclusion of all the processes for the implementation of the integrated security surveillance and monitoring solution for the Abuja to Kaduna railway line and that this be extended to cover the Lagos-Ibadan railway line,” Mr Shehu said.
The March 28, 2022, bombing of the Abuja-Kaduna rail track came about six months after the same rail track was attacked by terrorists. It also came barely 72 hours after the Kaduna airport was attacked by the same terrorists. In all of these, innocent Nigerians, who were out to make a living, lost their lives.
As the news of the attack went viral on the social media, the terrorists who carried out the operation claimed responsibility, requesting that their members held captive by the government be released in exchange for the hostages.
And barely 24 hours after the attack, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, visited the scene of the attack alongside the former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi; Chief of Defence Staff, Leo Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya; Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali; officials of the Nigerian Railway Cooperation (NRC), among other top government functionaries.
Indeed, Nigerians and the entire world rose to condemn the attack, wondering how an operation of that magnitude could be successfully executed without enough intelligence gathering by the security agencies.
And former Minister Amaechi told journalists after his visit to the scene that the attack would have been averted if the surveillance equipment he proposed to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) were installed.
Amaechi, who said he had proposed to the FEC to procure the equipment to forestall attacks on the rail infrastructure, disclosed that his request was turned down by his colleagues.
As the days went by, the terrorists began to release the hostages in batches with the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bank of Agriculture, Alwan Hassan, as the first hostage to be released.
Others subsequently followed in batches of three, four, five and seven with staggering sums running into billions of naira paid in cash to the terrorists as ransom by their relatives.
In some cases, the relatives of the victims had to sell landed property and other valuables to raise the ransom required.
Five months after the Kaduna train attack amid dashed hopes of the passengers ever regaining their freedom, Gen. Irabor, at a parley with Editors and Media Executives, however, hinted that plans were afloat to rescue the remaining detainees.
He pointed out that the military and other security agencies remained committed to ensuring the safe rescue of the then 23 remaining victims in captivity.
While many would have taken Irabor’s assurance with a pinch of salt, a Presidential Committee he had inaugurated to facilitate the rescue of the remaining passengers achieved the impossible – ensured the captives’ safe release, early this month.
According to a statement by the Secretary of the Committee, Prof. Usman Yusuf, the nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Nigerian Military under the leadership of the CDS who conceived and guided the operation from start to finish.
“All sister Security Agencies and the Federal Ministry of Transportation contributed immensely to this Operation,” part of the statement reads.
Indeed, it behoves Nigerians to commend the men and leadership of the military and other security agencies for rising up to the difficult, and often impossible, demands of their calling on this and many other occasions.
In particular, we must salute Gen. Irabor and all the members of his Action Committee for their singular dedication in securing the freedom of all the remaining victims. It is hoped that the same concerted effort will be deployed in securing the release of victims of every reported abduction, across the country, in recent times.
*Mahmud is the Deputy Editor of PRNigeria.*
Kidnapped School ChildrenYauri FGC Students, Kebbi
599 days 14 hours 41 minutes 45 seconds,
Baptist School Students, Kaduna
581 days 16 hours 23 minutes 10 seconds
Tegina Islamiya Pupils, Niger (Freed)
Report By: PRNigeria.com