Edo Train Attack
NIGERIANS were for the second time jolted on January 7, over train attacks in the country. They had gone to sleep believing that the March 28, 2022Kaduna- Abuja attack would be the last in the country. They were shocked again when some people believed to be kidnappers struck at a sub-station of the Nigerian Railway Corporation at Igueben, Edo State, shooting sporadically and wounded many people in the process. At the end of the operation, about 30 people were kidnapped including passengers and staff at the station.
THE Igueben train station attack sadly reminds the nation of the horrendous kaduna train attack about 10 months ago when terrorists, who were later identified as ISWAP members, attacked an Abuja-bound train during which they killed eight passengers and kidnapped 62 others. The incident brought a huge ruckus between families of the affected victims and the government .The federal government was able to release the last batch of 23 captives on October 6, 2022 and resumed the Abuja-Kaduna train service operations on December 5, 2022.
IT is however a grave concern that barely one month after the resumption of operations on the Abuja-Kaduna corridor, that another attack would happen at the Edo axis, this time not on a moving train, but at a train station. The federal government’s soft handling of the Kaduna incident may have emboldened the criminal elements to strike again in Edo State, hoping to rake in billions like their Kaduna counterparts.
REPORTS had it that the kidnappers successfully executed their operation because the train station was not protected by security men. Following the attack, the Edo state government mobilized security agencies and paramilitary organisations to comb forests in the area in an attempt to find the perpetrators of the crime and free the captives. Nigeria Railway Corporation also announced closure of train station till further notice.
ACCORDING to reports,32 kidnapped victims had been rescued while eight suspected attackers arrested and charged to court by the Edo State Police Command for the abduction of the passengers on January 7, 2023. Among those arrested were two traditional chiefs .
We commend the swift response of security agencies to the attack and the quick rescue of the victims and arrest of those suspected to be behind the attack. We also laud the government of Edo State for deploring both material and human resources to rescue the victims and apprehend the hoodlums.
WE charge the federal government to find lasting solutions to these attacks that is becoming too frequent. We suspect that if nothing is done, people may lose interest in train transportation meaning that huge investment on the project would become a waste.
Government must find an enduring solution to the insecurity of the system, by providing adequate security like cameras and other gadgets that could secure its operation. We recall government’s promise to secure the rail when the Kaduna attack happened. Months after the incident the government has not deemed it fit to provide the necessary security gadget .
We are however worried how such a facility at Igueben was bare of police and other security cover, especially in the light of our security challenges in the country? Does it mean that no lessons were learnt from the Kaduna incident on the part of the security agencies, the NRC and other stakeholders
Government should not just see train attacks as activities of the hoodlums to get money but a deliberate economic sabotage with the intention to frustrate train transportation in Nigeria.
WE therefore enjoined government to involve traditional rulers and communities where rail facilities are situated to secure them by providing intelligence to the appropriate agencies as well as report any strange movements of people to appropriate authorities.
THE Hope sees the attack as a failure of security intelligence. If the intelligence gathering had been good such attacks would have been nip in the board. We thus encourage government to provide working tools for the intelligence agencies to enable them provide excellent services to the Nation.
LASTLY, we recognise and appreciate the recent security onslaughts against hoodlums in Nigeria, leading to the elimination of many bandits and terrorists and the surrendering of thousands of others. However, they should see the recent attack on the Igueben train station in Edo State as an opportunity to send a unmistakable signal to the outlaws that enough is enough.