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Terrorists give FG 7-day ultimatum over Abuja-Kaduna train victims

By Odita Sunday (Abuja) and Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna)
25 May 2022   |   3:09 am
Two months after their abduction, the Federal Government has been given an ultimatum of seven days by terrorists to enter into meaningful dialogue over the kidnapped

[FILES] The train attacked on the Abuja-Kaduna Railway at Rijana Kagarko LGA, in Kaduna.

Two months after their abduction, the Federal Government has been given an ultimatum of seven days by terrorists to enter into meaningful dialogue over the kidnapped victims of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, otherwise, they would be killed. However, the terrorists said negotiation with the government would not be centered on money.

The terrorists, who contacted the spokesman of Sheikh Ahmed Mahmud Gumi, Malam Tukur Mamu, on phone, said Mamu is the only person they can trust in the media and urged him to convey their message, exactly as stated, to the Federal Government, families of the victims and Nigerians in general.

In telephone conversations with Mamu, the abductors said the Federal Government has contacted them on how to secure the release of the abducted passengers but there seems to be insincerity on the part of the government putting their lives at risk.

The terrorists added that the Federal Government suspended the resumption of the train service because of their threats.

“We don’t need money. We have a good reason for doing what we did. Until our demands are met, none of the victims will come out alive even if it means we will all die with them. They are well taken care of as you can see from the pictures we sent to you via WhatsApp but we assure you that this will not continue.”

Besides, the leader of the team, who simply gave his name to Mamu as Abu Barra, stated that “it’s been two months since the abduction and anything can happen to the abducted passengers henceforth.”

The terrorists who claimed that some of their children and relations were under arrest said, “before any continued discussion on the release of these passengers and a safe resumption of the train service, our children must be released unconditionally.

“Only then will we release some of the abducted victims, especially the women, while other passengers will be released on a prisoner exchange with some of our arrested comrades by the government.”

Barra explained that they decided to come to a GSM-enabled location with one of the female victims to talk to Mamu as a confirmation of their claims.

Mamu said he could hear her cries with a very low voice that probably indicated exhaustion pleading with him to talk to the government on their behalf for a swift intervention on their release.

Leader of the abductors warned that, if within seven days the government does not respond to their demands, they will stop feeding the victims and will start slaughtering them one after the other.

“And if the government doesn’t respond after that, then Nigerians should forget using the Abuja-Kaduna rail line as well as the Kaduna-Abuja highway. We rely on you and urged you to convey this important message to everyone,” Barra stressed.

MEANWHILE, experts have expressed mixed reactions over the telephone call by terrorists threatening to kill the kidnapped victims. National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, blamed President Muhammadu Buhari for not doing his job as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

According to him, “There is a game playing out here. We think these kidnappings are now commercialised and some persons even inside of government are benefitting from the ransom paid. First and foremost, why is it that till now, President Muhammadu Buhari has not fired any of his security chiefs because the governor of Kaduna State told Nigerians that the government was aware of the location of the terrorists long before they struck and that no action was taken to prevent the attack from happening.

Former Director of State Services, Dennis Amachree, urged the government to take advantage of this phone call and negotiate with the terrorists.

According to him, “this telephone call from the leaders of the terrorists indicates progress in the hostage negotiation process. It is an opportunity the government should not pass up. I have always believed in negotiating a hostage situation, but against the payment of ransom.

“This negotiation is heading towards the swapping of prisoners, and that is a good sign. If it is successful, there will be no deaths and the exchange can take place.

“This has also opened a new vista to the security agencies where they can connect the dots of the terrorists in the northwest and their families in the northeast.”