• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Train attack: Victims’ families lament neglect by government

Edo train attack: last captives freed, 2 village chiefs, 7 others arrested

Families of the victims of the March 28, Abuja-Kaduna train attack, on Thursday, said the Federal Government was yet to contact them to explain plans for the rescue of their loved ones, 17 days after their kidnap.

Aliya Mahmoud, spokesperson of the group, during a press conference at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Abuja, said, “No government agency has reached out to us even though we had made attempts to see the right authorities, but nothing came through.”

Mahmoud said the families were ready to be part of the negotiations for the release of their loved ones held captive by the kidnappers.

Recall that a train carrying hundreds of passengers from Abuja to Kaduna on March 28, never made it as it was attacked by bandits.

Mahmoud, who led over 50 family members of the victims to present their plea for onward transmission to the government, expressed disappointment over the way the government is handling the rescue plans without their involvement.

He explained that the families were at the rights commission as a group, “yearning for a solution to bring our family members back home in good health, and utmost safety”

“No government agency reached out to us even though we had made attempts to see the right authorities, but nothing came through. Everything we tried proved abortive. These are human beings that we’re talking about but the response is rather discouraging and devastating”

Read also: Kaduna killings and a silenced nation

He disclosed that the families want to “actively participate in ensuring their safety, adding that “nothing is too small or too much to secure the lives of the victims.

“The longer they stay there one cannot help but imagine the emotional, mental and physical trauma they are going through at this moment. The abuse they suffer can have a lasting psychological effect on them.

“We would like to bring this to the world stage that we were only contacted by the kidnappers once since the incident, and that was just to show proof of life which unfortunately does not guarantee the health of the victims.

According to Mahmoud, “the thought of our loved ones being in that perilous state for 17 is sapping us. Every attempt to reach out to the kidnappers for further discussion and negotiation has proven abortive because the terrorists made it clear that the only one they will talk to is government.

“We are confused and most of the victims are in dire need of medical attention.”

About 65 persons, including a seven-month-old pregnant woman, are being held in captivity for over two weeks now.

BusinessDay gathered that the pregnant woman has a history of giving birth through the Caesarian section.

Mahmoud said “only God knows the trauma she is passing through. There’s one of the victims who has a gunshot wound and needs immediate medical attention. But there is no access to give him that.”

“There is a two-year-old. For God’s sake, we can only imagine what they’re going through. We have an aged woman of 85 years she is there helplessly just like the others. We don’t have any clue on what to do. Any additional loss of life results in unbearable sorrow to the family but not to the government.

“We are the ones that will feel the pain of not seeing them again. We are the ones to bear the burden of knowing we could have saved them given the chance and opportunity to negotiate for the safe return of our loved ones.

“How will that two-year-old toddler look at the world today. They have lived in unprecedented agony these past 17 days. Food cannot be eaten without wondering if they have eaten. We can’t sleep but wonder how they sleep, especially the women among them.

“How will they manage in such a situation? But all we can do is to plead with the government, plead with the world, even the terrorists and the good people of the world to come to our aid in securing the release of our family members.”

He pleaded with the kidnappers to “provide room for dialogue so we can negotiate the release of our loved ones. We beg you to include them in your prayers and thoughts. It could have been any one of us”

Also speaking at the briefing, Idayat Yusuf, another family member of one of the victims, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to look at “the issue like a father, like a husband”

Yusuf who alleged that some victims were dead, said “we can’t just imagine the situation they’re in. We are appealing to the necessary authorities. The only crime of these people was that they boarded the train to Kaduna. The government should come to their rescue.”

She also pleaded with the kidnappers to come out and negotiate with the families, adding that “we’re ready, we are willing, but they are not even talking to us.”

Halilu Adamu, a deputy director with the human rights commission, who addressed the aggrieved families, assured them that their message would be passed to the appropriate government quarters

Adamu added that “we will work closely with the relevant authority to ensure that the right thing is done.”