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Kidn#pped Train Passengers: FG opens discussion with terr0rists — Victims’ relatives

Relatives and friends of the abd#cted train passengers on Friday, said they have been assured by the Federal Government that the channel of discussions with the terrorists has been opened.

They, however, warned the Nigerian Railway Corporation against attempting to resume train services without rescuing their loved ones who were kidnapped by the terrorists.

Dr Abdulfatai Jimoh, leader of the kidnapped relatives who addressed journalists on behalf of others in Kaduna on Friday, said that after the expiration of the 72-hour-ultimatum handed down to the Federal Government, “we are happy that the government has started discussing with the abductors of our relatives.

He called on the government to speed up the process of the negotiation for the release of their loved ones by the bandits unhurt.

Jimoh said it has not been easy for the families since the attack and warned the NRC against the proposed resumption of train services without first rescuing the kidnapped victims.

“It is true that we gave the Federal Government 72 hour ultimatum which expired yesterday(Thursday) at midnight.

“We are grateful to God that before the expiration of the 72 hours, we heard from the Federal Government after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday through the Minister of Information that the government is already on top of the situation with what has happened.

“We acknowledged it and we appreciate it. But what we want to add is that the government should speed up the process of discussion with them(bandits) so that they can come out to release our people soonest. This is our appeal now.”

“The NRC should not be talking about reopening their services now when our people are in captive because what is the assurance that if they start services now that people that will be board the train are safe.

“What measure(s) have they put in place to guarantee the security of those that are going to patronise their services. We don’t want the reoccurrence of this.

“The first thing should be to get the captives out and then they can put adequate measures in place and resume service so that this does not happen again in future.”

Asked if the NRC should go-ahead to resume training service, the Chairman said:

“we want to believe that they won’t try it and if they do, we won’t take it lightly with them because human lives are involved. We believe they won’t. We believe they won’t because they know what’s at stake.”

A relative, Faitma Ciroma, whose sister was among the victims, regretted that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi even had the audacity to declare his intent to vie for the presidency shortly after the attack.

She called on Nigerians not to elect the likes of the Minister as president in the 2023 presidential election because “he is inhuman.”

“The Minister should have resigned rather than declared for the 2023 presidency. The NRC muting the idea of resuming train service is inhuman. It’s not good at all.”

“The authority needs to sit down and think about how to rescue those in captivity and not the resumption of train service. What’s train service compared to human lives? Does that mean human lives are not valued by the authority?

“The Minister of Transportation is not helpful. Nigerians should not elect him as president. He shouldn’t be elected at all if this is what he has to offer.”

Another relative, Dr Abdulkarim Atta said that the terrorists reached out to him 11 times, adding that the terrorists told him that “they have their targets” on the train.

He said the terrorist told him that it was unfortunate that other people were taken away.

Atta said his 85-year-old mother and sister were among those kidnapped

He said that he was given the opportunity by the bandits to talk to his aged mother and sister before the release of the Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture, Alwan Ali-Hassan.

According to him, the bandits told him in the course of their discussion “that the state governor, (Malam Nasir El-Rufai) has been running his mouth and that’s why they came to his doorstep and that this is just the beginning. That they would go further than this. I spoke with them.”

Sani Lawal, another relative, also warned the NRC not to resume train service when their kidnapped relations were still in captivity in the interest of peace.

“My brother, Hassan and his sister-in-law are being held by the bandits. We are deeply concerned that the government are not showing enough concern. Up to date, no government delegation had called upon us to sympathise or show concern.

“Let us warn the NRC not to contemplate or attempt to resume train service without rescuing our loved ones in the den of the bandits. It is obvious that the NRC is only thinking of how to make money without even thinking about how to put measures to forestall such incident in the near future.

“This is the third attack on the train and if we may ask, where is the government that cannot put in adequate measures to stop the reoccurrence.

“The NRC should not attempt to start train service without rescuing our kidnapped victims. Nobody will wish even his enemy to be taken hostage by the bandits because the condition they are in isn’t funny. We will not rest until the authority does the needful by rescuing our beloved ones unhurt.

“We will continue to gather here until they listen to us and carry out the necessary action to effect the release of the victims. Let the NRC make the mistake of resuming train service. Until then, we reserve what we are going to do.

“We have pregnant women among them that urgently needed caesarian operation to deliver. But at the moment she is in a condition that no one can say. Some were shot by the bandits and they are there with them as we speak. Some people are diabetic among the victims. What do we do? We thank the media.”

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