Terrorists release five more Abuja-Kaduna train victims, 35 still in captivity
• Minister: Abuja-Kaduna train service will not resume until all kidnapped victims are released
• Kaduna, Plateau, Sokoto attacks: Bring this madness to an end, Buhari charges security agencies
• Oyo on alert as Amotekun intercepts truck load of 140 travellers in Ibadan
• Borno, Benue, Kaduna top unsafe states as terrorists kill 7,222, abduct 3,823 in seven months – Report
After 125 days in captivity, five more hostages, who were abducted on March 28 aboard an Abuja-Kaduna train, were, yesterday, freed by terrorists, making it the fourth batch of victims that have secured their freedom.
Security agencies and the Federal Government were yet to confirm the development, but a member of the negotiating team, Tukur Mamu, publisher of Kaduna-based Desert Herald and media consultant to controversial Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, told newsmen that the victims were released on Tuesday.
He gave the names of the five released hostages as Prof. Mustapha Umar Imam, who is medical consultant at Usman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto; Akibu Lawal, Abubakar Ahmed Rufai; Mukthar Shu’aibu and Sidi Aminu Sharif.
Recall that last week, three victims of the train attack were released shortly after the terrorists released a viral video of some of the captives being flogged. They also threatened to abduct President Muhammadu Buhari and Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai.
The terrorists had earlier released 11 victims in the first batch, seven victims in the second batch, three in the third and five victims in the fourth batch respectively. So far, 35 victims are still in captivity.
Gunmen had, on March 28, blown up the rail track, killing 14 and abducting scores of passengers, a situation that called for serious concern about the safety of the nation’s train service.
Worried about the situation, the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) temporarily suspended activities, with President Muhammadu Buhari directing security agencies to rescue the victims.
A family source told The Guardian yesterday that Prof. Imam, who was among those released, was reportedly shot while in captivity. Shuaibu was shot during a ‘friendly fire’ while in the den of the terrorists.
Mamu, while announcing his withdrawal as a negotiator, had said he did that due to threats to his life, personal integrity and lack of support from the Federal Government. On the release of the five hostages, Mamu said the victims were in his office to thank him.
Although there was no mention of whether ransom was paid or not for the released victims, the terrorists had earlier demanded N100 million each per victim before they would be released, which those earlier released paid.
MEANWHILE, the Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo, has said the Federal Government will not resume commercial operation on the Abuja-Kaduna train service until all passengers kidnapped on the service are released and united with their families.
The Minister, who stated this during a visit to the Idu railway yard in Abuja, said it was very important to get those Nigerians that have been kidnapped reunited with their families, otherwise, it will appear the government is not sensitive; “whereas the government is not only sensitive but doing everything it can to make sure that those who have been affected by this abduction are reunited with their families.”
Responding further on when the train will resume operation, Sambo stressed the need to put in place “adequate security and infrastructural measures to protect and prevent all forms of threats that are possible and leave what you cannot do to God; but everything humanly possible will be put in place to ensure that the reoccurrence of this nature is automatically eliminated forever.”
He disclosed that the ministry is trying to deploy the best technology available anywhere in the world to forestall reoccurrence of such sad incident.
“To this effect, we are in the process of procuring the sensors. The technology that is going to be deployed is such that you can perceive a threat and eliminate it before you get to the location; that is being proactive.”
PRESIDENT Buhari has described the recent attacks in Sokoto, Plateau and Kaduna states as barbaric. The President, while condoling with those who lost their loved ones in the terrorist attacks, yesterday, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said security agencies have been directed “to bring the madness to an end.”
The statement said President Buhari had reviewed the situation following reports, and assured all of possible support from the Federal Government to the states, adding, “we have given security forces full freedom to deal with and bring to end this madness.
“I condemn these barbaric attacks on the country. I wish to assure the states of all possible support from the government of the federation. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.
May the injured recover quickly,” he said.
IN another development, a near panic situation was averted in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, yesterday, when vigilant officials of the Amotekun corps, intercepted a truck loaded with over 140 travellers, who were suspected to be security risk.
The travellers, who were intercepted around Bodija-University of Ibadan axis, were allegedly coming from up North and heading to Ogere town in Ogun State. Some of the travellers jumped off the truck and ran away on sighting the corps.
The Amotekun corps, in collaboration with other security agencies searched the intercepted truck to ascertain their mission.
Oyo State Amotekun Commandant, Col Olayinka Olayanju (rtd), said nothing was found on them. They were, thereafter, escorted out of the state. He added that monitoring and surveillance in major border points within the state have been intensified.
Reacting to the development, the Aare Ona Kankanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, said bandits are gradually taking over major forests in the Southwest and governors of the region must activate their security alertness to save the Southwest from the travails of banditry in the Northwest and North-Central.
RECALL that terrorists, bandits and other assailants have killed 7,222 persons and kidnapped 3,823 individuals in the country between January 1 and July 31, 2022, according to data from the Nigeria Security Report published by Beacon Consulting, a security risk management and intelligence consulting company.
Borno, a Northeastern state and the stronghold of Boko Haram terrorists, recorded the highest deaths of 163 people within the period under review, while Benue, which appeared the most hounded state in the Middle-belt came second with 90 fatalities.
Also, the third most unsafe state was Kaduna, which had 82 deaths within the period specified, according to the report. Others that witnessed high deaths were Niger with 65 and Zamfara with 42.
“Ondo State recorded the highest fatalities in the Southwest region at 55 persons killed in the monitored period, while Ebonyi State had 28 fatalities as the state with the highest from the Southeast region,” the report disclosed.
The report noted: “In June 2022, government’s efforts significantly reduced the security incidents and fatalities but not abductions, compared with the figures for May 2022.
“Accordingly, in the sixth month of the year, we recorded 338 incidents that resulted in 651 abductions and 765 fatalities. These affected 185 Local Government Areas in 36 states plus the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.