About 21 days after the deadly attack by armed bandits on the Kaduna bound train from Abuja, the Nigerian government has yet to take any decisive action in response to the ugly incident.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how bandits on March 28 ambushed the train heading for Kaduna from the nation’s capital city after bombing its rail track.
This unprecedented attack, attributed to the failure of the authorities to act on intelligence reports, happened only a couple of days after this newspaper reported that unidentified gunmen invaded the Kaduna airport, killing an official on the runway.
Soldiers reportedly repelled the attack, and the airport was shut down.
In the train attack, at least eight passengers were killed in the incident, while 168 others wer kidnapped or declared missing. Out of the figure, one person was recently freed.
The families of 22 of the passengers have declared them missing.
It was the second time the rail line between Abuja and Kaduna would be the target of bandits.
Here is the timeline of events since the latest incident.
Officials visit scene
Less than 24 hours after the attack on the train, some Nigerian government officials visited the scene of the incident to ascertain the level of damages.
Prominent amongst them were the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, Chief of Defence staff, Lucky Irabor and Chief of Army staff, Faruk Yahaya.
Others who also visited the scene were the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and officials of the Nigerian Railway Cooperation (NRC).
Attack could have been averted
Following his visit to the scene, Mr Amaechi revealed to journalists that the attack on the Kaduna- bound train would have been averted if surveillance equipments he proposed to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had been installed.
The minister said he had proposed to the FEC the need to procure the equipments to forestall attacks on the infrastructure but it was rejected by his colleagues.
Controversial surveillance contract
After his revelation about the rejected surveillance proposal to FEC, documents emerged on how the minister of transportation, wanted to award a N3.7 billion rail security contract to a company with N84.9 million turnover, according to a leaked memo.
According to the leaked memo the Punch said it obtained, FEC rejected the proposal for the installation of security equipment along the Abuja-Kaduna rail track presented by Mr Amaechi because they “had doubts about the capability of a company.”
In the minutes of the FEC meeting dated September 24, 2021, Amaechi proposed that a company, Mogjan Nigeria Limited, be awarded the contract worth N3.7 billion.
Release of some captives
A few days after his kidnap, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bank of Agriculture, Alwan Hassan, was released alongside others.
Mr Hassan, who was seen in a video released by the bandits, said he was freed on compassionate grounds.
However, there are unconfirmed reports that a ransom of N100 million was paid before he was released.
Repairs of damaged tracks ongoing
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) had last week said the damaged section of the rail track was being fixed.
An official of the corporation however said he did not know when the repairs will be completed.
Meanwhile, the damaged coaches have been brought back to Abuja.
Callous, matter of grave concern – Presidency
President Muhammadu Buhari, while reacting to the incident, described it as ‘callous’ and a matter of grave concern.
He also gave a directive to security chiefs to hunt down the terrorists and rescue those abducted.
In a statement by his spokesperson, Garba Shehu, the president directed that a system be put in place to prevent such attacks in future.
“President Buhari has directed the immediate conclusion of all the processes for the implementation of the integrated security surveillance and monitoring solution for the Abuja to Kaduna railway line and that this be extended to cover the Lagos-Ibadan railway line,” Mr Shehu said..
The president also directed the NRC management to speedily repair the damaged lines and resume normal service without delay.
Victims relatives gives ultimatum
Two weeks after the incident, relatives of the kidnapped victims, accused the federal government of insensitivity towards the plight of the victims.
They also said that since the incident, the NRC had yet to reach out to them on efforts made to rescue the kidnapped victims.
Consequently, the relatives handed down a 72-hour ultimatum to the federal government to ensure the safe rescue of their beloved ones from the den of the terrorists. They said failure to listen to them would force them to decide on how to rescue their loved ones.
NRC unable to establish contact with kidnappers
More than a week after the incident, the NRC came out to say it has been unable to establish contact with the kidnappers.
This came even as government sources said they are not ready to pay ransoms to bandits in exchange for kidnapped victims.
Bandits make demands
The abductors recently came out to say their aim was not to gain ransom from the federal government, as according to them, they do not want money.
In a video released by the terrorists last week, they stated that the government knew what they wanted, and threatened to kill the victims if the demands were not met.
The video was shot while Mr Hassan’ was still held captive by the bandits but released after he was set free.
Security patrol on highway
During his visit to the scene, the IGP directed the immediate deployment of operatives drawn from the Police Mobile Force (PMF), Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Special Forces (SF), Intelligence Response Team (IRT), the Special Tactical Squad (STS), as well as airwing operatives in charge of unmanned aerial vehicles of the Nigeria Police Force.
Mr Alkali equally visited personnel of the armed forces and police deployed in Rijana to secure the technical crew of the NRC undertaking repair works at the damaged train coaches and rail line in the axis, to boost their morale and assess the state of their post.
NGF Donates N50 million to victims
The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) last Friday donated N50 million to the Kaduna State Government for onward transmission to the victims.
The forum Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, made the donation when he led a two-member delegation of the forum to Kaduna State.
Mr Fayemi said that the delegation was in the state to commiserate with the government and people of Kaduna on the train attack which claimed lives, injured many people, while several others were kidnapped.
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