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Train attack: Shock as terrorists vow to kidnap Buhari, el-Rufai

By Saxone Akhaine, Abdulganiyu Alabi (Kaduna), Terhemba Daka, Tina Abeku, Ernest Nzor (Abuja) and Oluwaseun Akingboye (Akure)
25 July 2022   |   4:15 am
Irked by Federal Government’s inability to meet their demands, terrorists who kidnapped the Kaduna-Abuja train passengers on March 28, 2022, have vowed to abduct President Muhammadu Buhari and governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai...

Buhari and el-Rufai

• Terrorist in new video claims to be Boko Haram member who escaped from Kuje Prison
• Presidency: Military action will hurt hostages
• U.S. agency: Nigeria recorded 5,222 violent killings in six months
• You’ve two options, free the victims or negotiate their release, Shehu Sani tells Buhari
• Northern groups fault FG over failure to tackle insecurity
• Your govt has failed Nigerians, APC chieftain blasts Buhari
• Nigeria’s collapse imminent if we fail to act, Gani Adams warns

Irked by Federal Government’s inability to meet their demands, terrorists who kidnapped the Kaduna-Abuja train passengers on March 28, 2022, have vowed to abduct President Muhammadu Buhari and governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai if their requests are not met.

The terrorists, suspected to be members of Ansaru, also stated that they would abduct other prominent Nigerians, as well as cause mayhem in the country.

These were contained in a new video the group released yesterday. The viral video saw the terrorists flogging the remaining male passengers of the ill-fated train attack, while female passengers were asked to line in front of the male passengers.

The nearly three minutes video showed a bearded passenger, who was asked to speak on their behalf, saying the terrorists told them that they did not plan to keep them as hostage for more than a week, but for government’s nonchalance. He, therefore, called on the international community and the United Nations (UN) to come to their aid since the government has failed to ensure their freedom.

Also, in the background, an elderly woman, about 85 years old, was heard cursing the Federal Government in Hausa, saying, “Allah ya isa” (meaning We leave you with God). She lamented that they voted the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Buhari with the hope that the North and entire country would be secured, but it was all in vain.

The terrorists threatened to kill and sell off some of the remaining train passengers in captivity.

“This is our message to the government of Nigeria and just as you have seen these people here, by God’s grace, you will see your leaders; your senators and governors will come before us. These ones you are seeing here, we will keep some as our slaves and sell them off just as our Imam told you in the past.

“Just like the Chibok girls that were sold off, we will equally sell these ones as slaves. If you don’t adhere to our demands, we will kill the ones we need to kill and sell the remaining. By God’s grace, El-Rufai, Buhari, we will bring you here.”

ONE of the Boko Haram members who escaped from the Kuje correctional facility in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, appeared in the latest video of hostages of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack.

The escapee, who did not state his name was among the three terrorists who posed on camera in the new video speaking ill of the government and the victims of the train attack. The man also threatened to kidnap el-Rufai.

“Let the government know I am one of the Kuje prison escapees. I am here, God has rescued me, I am now once again bearing arm. We are going to destroy this country, come and follow us, we will not change our stands. (sic)

“We are going to bring (kidnap) governor el-Rufai into this forest and belittle him the way we do to these people (victims of the train attack).

“You people know me, you declared me wanted to the world. Me too, I have declared you (government officials) wanted, I will kill you,” the terrorist who was carrying an assault weapon said.

The presidency, yesterday, decried terrorists’ activities in the country, but lamented the dilemma in dealing with the situation as military attacks on their locations could result in collateral harm on innocent hostages. 

The presidency, which described the “latest version of terror” in the country as a propaganda tool to instill fear in the citizens and force governments to submit to their demands, however, assured of the military’s capacity to neutralise any untoward activities, saying, restraints by the armed forces is to avert collateral damage to the innocent.

“The country’s security and defense forces are not clueless or helpless. They have their plans and ways of doing things, which they will not display in the media.

“It suffices to say that the security forces are not relenting. They are acutely aware of their duties, responsibilities and what the nation expects of them. Whenever they embark upon those actions, they expect that the public should provide them with the needed support,” the presidency said.

Continuing, it said: “The dilemmas in dealing with the specific case of train terrorists are manifold: punitive action like the popular call for carpet bombing of the known locations may assuage the desire of an angry public for revenge, but what about the hostages? They have committed no offense. All they did was to board a train.”

The presidency in a statement signed by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, added that “Terrorism is a global scourge that must be fought by all actors – the military, civilian population and the communication service providers. This is the only way safe havens of terrorists are eliminated in every part of the world.

“To help the nation against ongoing situation, the media must increase their support for the fight against the exploitation of the internet and social media for terrorist purposes.

“The presidency, in the meantime wishes to reassure the public that the President has done all, and even more than what is expected of him as Commander-in-Chief by way of morale, material and equipment support to the military and expects nothing short of good results in the immediate,” the statement said

THIS disturbing development is coming as the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), a project of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) of the United States, at the weekend, revealed that activities of violent non-state actors had claimed no fewer than 5,222 lives nationwide between January and June 2022.

The tracker, however, disclosed that there was a decline of 655 violent killings from 5,877 recorded within the same timeframe in 2021.

The figures were obtained from the official website of the council, a Washington-based think-tank, showing ambivalent movement in the trajectories of armed violence and its consequences across all the states of the federation.

NST tracks violence symptomatic of Nigeria’s political instability and citizen alienation. The data are based on weekly surveys of local and international media.

The tracker captured death casualties resulting from the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast, banditry in the Northwest, Fulani herdsmen violence in North-central and secessionist uprisings in the Southeast, among others.

As shown in the tracker, at least 996 persons were violently killed in January; 765 in February; 1,214 in March; 917 in April; 594 in May and 736 in June, totalling 5,222 in the first half of 2022.

The project is coordinated by Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Studies and former US Ambassador to Botswana, Ms Michelle Gavin.

REACTING to the trending video released by the terrorists yesterday, activist and former Kaduna Central Senator, Shehu Sani, in a series of tweets, told the Federal Government to either free the remaining abducted passengers or negotiate for their release.

“The video clip of the torture of Kaduna-bound train hostages followed the same pattern with that of Federal College of Agricultural Mechanisation, Kaduna. The difference was that women were spared. They are sending a message. The options remain two: free them or negotiate for their release.

“There has never been any successful rescue operation for most mass kidnappings of students, farmers or passengers in Kaduna, other than ransom payments by families. That is why the terrorists in the video called the committee set up by the government as ‘Tea drinking committee.’

“When terrorists post video clips of the torture of their victims, they are waging a psychological war to bring attention to their demands. We don’t have a thick forest in the Northwest to warrant four months of this ordeal. Time is of essence for the government to act now,” he wrote.

THE Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), on Sunday, faulted the Federal Government over the country’s grave security situation, lamenting glaring failure on the part of government to address the growing national threats. 

CNG, in a statement by its spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said the signs of imminent failure, or perhaps, complete failure of state have manifested in Nigeria as its government has failed to maintain a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within its borders. 

“By the latest development, Nigerians would be right to resort to self-protection, because obviously, the bandits and insurgents have sensed a huge vacuum in the capacity and political will to challenge them. It is this vacuum the criminals exploit with ease and at will while government, which is supposed to be the first responder, appears to be either living in perpetual denial or totally ignorant of the reality of the situation. 

“We have viewed the video clip and assessed the contents and find it disturbing to realise that Nigeria has finally come to terms with the reality that it has completely lost control of its forests, land borders, highways and to some extent, the airways and seas to insane bandits and insurgents in the North, deadly armed separatist armies in the East, pirates and other assortments of criminal gangs in the far South and the West.

“The audacious violence shown in the video released by the terrorists and the open threats to abduct the President and sitting governor proves the extent to which the country has lost out to the bandits. 

“Having come this far, we’re no longer in doubt that the only remaining option is the hard way that involves communities, apparently, abandoned to the mercy of deadly insurgents and sundry criminals, immediately mobilising to protect themselves, their homes and families. No people would tolerate to continue to live under such conditions while being led by a government that appears to run from threats and incapable and lacking in the political will to challenge the threats.” 

In another reaction, an APC chieftain in Niger State, Mr. Jonathan Vatsa, has lambasted President Buhari, saying the government has failed Nigerians in all ramifications.

“No matter the so-called achievements, any government that failed to protect the life and property of the citizens has failed the people and should honourably apologise to the people because African leaders don’t resign from office.”

The former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in the state, described the video as a “huge embarrassment not only to this government but entire Nigerians at home and in diaspora.

“There is no country in the world where a government will watch and deliberately refuse to protect the lives of its citizens like the current situation in Nigeria. It is unfortunate that this government that the Nigerian masses brought into power through their votes will create an impression that the Nigerian Army and other security agencies have no power to secure the release of this train victims and other kidnapped victims across the country.

“I think this a deliberate plan to enrich a particular ethnic tribe through proceeds of crime and criminality. This government has never made any attempt to rescue any kidnapped victim in this country, instead the families of victims struggled to pay hundreds of million to secure the release of their loved ones,” he alleged.

The former APC publicity secretary in the state, particularly, accused the President for always issuing political directives to security agencies through their heads without any action, stressing, “these directives always ended up achieving nothing.”

THE Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, meanwhile, has warned that if prompt action is not taken to stem the tide, Nigeria may cease to exist as a nation within the next two years.

According to him, the only solution to forestall the imminent disaster threatening the country’s unity is to immediately implement true federalism as the system of government.

The Generalissimo of Yoruba race, Adams, bemoaned that in the midst of heightened insecurity, economic crisis and downgraded institutions among others, governance in the country has shown lack of coordination.

Adams, who is also the leader of Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), stated this at the weekend in his hometown, Arigidi-Akoko, in Akoko North-West Local Government Area of Ondo State during this year’s edition of Okota festival.

He said: “With the insecurity issues in Nigeria, there is nothing that can be done if we do not have federalism. If we do not allow federalism on the basis of regionalism, I’m afraid within two years, this country will break.

“You can see how the wave is coming. Not only wave of insecurity, even the economy, depreciating of institution, lack of cohesion in governance. Definitely, there is danger ahead if the Nigerian government does not act fast to restructure, Nigeria to regionalism.