Early this month, Nigerians were greeted with the news that the remaining 23 victims of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack held in captivity since March have been finally released by their captors. The cheering news was broken to the media by Mr Usman Yusuf, Secretary, Chief of Defence Staff Action Committee (CDSAC). A Presidential Committee reportedly set up by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, to look into the abduction of victims of the Kaduna-Abuja train attack, secured the release of the 23 remaining victims in the terrorists’ captivity.
WE recall that on March 28, 2022, armed terrorists launched a bloody offensive on the Abuja-Kaduna train with about 970 passengers onboard, shooting at the passengers and kidnapping some of them.The attack, which occurred a few kilometres to Kaduna metropolis, left about eight people killed, dozens injured and about 168 abducted by the bandits.
Shortly after the attack, the abductors began to release the captives in batches. Tukur Mamu, publisher of Kaduna-based Desert Herald and media consultant to the controversial Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, at a point acted as negotiator between the kidnappers and families of the abducted victims until he withdrew.There were reports that families of each victim paid a ransom of N100 million to secure the release of their loved ones but this was debunked by government.
It would also be recalled that Mamu was reportedly arrested by INTERPOL in early September in Egypt on his way to Saudi Arabia for Hajj on the instruction of the Nigerian authorities and had since been extradited to Nigeria, he is being held by the Department of State Services (DSS) on charges of collusion with “local and international terrorists”.
Eleven of the abductees were released in June, while in July, seven more abducted passengers, including Sadiq, son of Ango Abdullahi, chairman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), were freed. Likewise, on August 2, five kidnapped victims were released and in subsequent days, more abductees secured their freedom. Later that month, four more hostages also regained freedom.
While The Hope commends the government and every other persons that were instrumental to the release of these captives, we want to remind the government that there are still many innocent Nigerians in the hands of anti-state actors, contrary to their own will.For example, Amnesty International, has said that since the abduction of 276 Chibok schoolgirls by Boko Haram on April 14, 2014, more than 1,500 Nigerian school children have been abducted by armed groups. The rights group noted that between December 2020 and October last year, 1,436 schoolchildren – and 17 teachers – were abducted from schools in the country by armed groups.
“Of the more than 1,500 school children abducted in northern Nigeria since the Chibok attack, at least 120 students remain in captivity. They are mostly schoolgirls, and their fate remains unknown.Of the 102 students who were kidnapped from the Federal Government College in Birnin Yauri, nine are still being held by their captors. One of the 121 students abducted from Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna State remains in the terrorist den.
“Five of the 19 students abducted from Greenfield University were murdered, while one of the 333 students kidnapped in Kankara was also killed. Five of the 276 students kidnapped in Dapchi were killed, while one student, Leah Sharibu, remains in captivity, and five of the 136 school children kidnapped from Salihu Tanko Islamiya School in Tegina have also been killed.”
The Hope is of the opinion that if the federal government could secure the release of passengers who were captured from the ill-fated Abuja-Kaduna train, it should deploy the same means to liberate other young and hapless Nigerians who had been held captive by terrorist groups over the years.Moreso, the federal government recently claimed that security had improved in the country. Therefore, government should do everything possible to bring succor to relatives of other kidnapped victims.
Also, The Hope recommends that government should put every necessary measure in place to prevent a recurrence of such cases of abduction, as prevention is better than cure. The advantages of technology can be exploited to bring this to reality. Likewise, security should be taken as everybody’s business. This means that members of the public should collaborate with law enforcement agencies by offering useful and timely information that would make it almost impossible for terrorists to operate at will in any part of the country .