The abducted train passengers – regardless, life goes on

It was some 70 days ago, precisely on June 5, when the unfortunate Abuja-Kaduna train was attacked in Katari, Kaduna State. In addition to the above, yet to be ascertained figure, a number of Christian worshippers were massacred during a church service in Owo, Ondo State.

Just as the Abuja-Kaduna train attack is becoming history, till date, many of the abducted passengers are yet to regain their freedom. The current instance of the massacre in Owo, Ondo State, may also become history given the hurly-burly of events in contemporary Nigeria. This is so because, as at the time of writing this piece, the entire nation’s attention was still in Abuja for the Presidential APC primary election. Indeed, life goes on, regardless.

We recall here that on March 28, 2022, an Abuja-Kaduna train was attacked in Katari, Kaduna State, and in response, the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) briefly stopped operations along the route.

It is worthy to note that no amount of economic activity can thrive in the midst of insecurity, and when a nation’s response to insecurity is poor, investors will never consider doing business in that imperilled social formation

From the records, many Nigerians, including one Dr Megafu Chinelo, lost their lives. Others were kidnapped during the Kaduna train attack. Meanwhile, as insecurity continues to thrive in Nigeria, the government of the day remains deathly quiet. On Twitter, a Nigerian, @FakhuusHashim twitted thus: “They came with bare cars and loaded people from the train carriages and kidnapped many. The outcome is terrible. And the gruesome scenario is this: if you cannot find your loved ones, wounded in a hospital currently or dead in a mortuary, then they’ve been kidnapped.”

Dr Chinelo also twitted then in her final moments: “I’m on the train. I have been shot, please pray for me.”

A survivor of the attack described his experience, saying, when the explosives went off, the earth shook after which the terrorists began to rain bullets on us.

He recalled that “the earth shook and within the twinkle of an eye, it was gunshots everywhere.”

It is painful that some 70+ days after the incident, there is still no decisive action or plan by the government on how to rescue the abducted passengers. Again, regardless, life goes on. The most worrisome is that Nigerians are learning by the day that politics is more important than lives.

It could be recalled that on the 42nd day of the attack, the families of the victims took to the streets to protest the abduction of their loved ones.

They lamented that they were helpless since they were not in a position to meet the demands of the terrorists who have kept their loved ones in captivity since March 28.

They therefore called on the President Muhammadu Buhari to personally wade into the matter to ensure the safe return of the abducted passengers.

The leader of the families, under the umbrella of the Relatives of the AK-9 Abuja-Kaduna Train Kidnapped Passengers, Baaba Mohammed, said this in an interview.

Earlier, the kidnappers had asked the Federal Government to release some of their children in custody as well as some of their commanders in exchange for the victims. They went as far as releasing videos of the victims to press home their demands.

Three of the victims who spoke on behalf of others appealed to the Federal Government and other well-meaning Nigerians to ensure they were safely reunited with their families.

Mohammed said the latest video showed that further delay in rescuing the victims could portend danger to the captives, saying, “We are pleading with the government that time is of the essence, we are urging the government to take note of all those things. If you look at the body language of those in the video you saw … (the, Monday), you will see the need for urgency and I don’t think we have the luxury of time to foot- drag.

Read also: Nigeria: Growing insecurity and fate of 2023

“The President should directly intervene. He needs to talk to the security operatives to understand that every minute that passes without necessarily taking action is detrimental to the health of these people.”

In relation to the recent Ondo massacre, we once again condemn terrorism of any magnitude, as we note that it is unfortunate that the government has kept mum in the wake of these attacks, which have thrown the country into deep mourning.

In the train attack, at least eight passengers were killed in the incident, while 168 others kidnapped or declared missing. Out of the figure, one person was recently freed, after paying about N100 million ransom.

It is worthy to note that no amount of economic activity can thrive in the midst of insecurity, and when a nation’s response to insecurity is poor, investors will never consider doing business in that imperilled social formation. We therefore urge the Federal Government to redesign its security architecture to be appropriate and credible in response to such incidents. Above all, the entire Nigeria’s security system should be overhauled. It is important to know that these terrorists are not spirits but humans like us. Thus, they live among us and as such, apprehending them ought to be easy. This is the best way to demonstrate solidarity with the families of the victims in particular and Nigerians in general.

We believe that it is never too late for the government to do something instead of channelling every attention to politics and politicking.

We can only imagine how many people have died from insecurity in 2022 alone. And there are even indications that the sad narratives are usually under-reported.

Sadly, the victims of the Kaduna-Abuja train attack and the recent church massacre in Owo, Ondo State, are not the first, and unfortunately may well not be the last from the look of things. Therefore, from all indications, it clearly and further shows that Nigerians are not safe. No one knows the next victim. It is apposite here to join other Nigerians to convey our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. Beyond much of the foregoing is that the government should get its act together on this critical issue of security. For much too long, it has failed to live up to even the minimal expectations in this crucial area.

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