Don’t let them die!


*Lawmaker begs FG not to let abducted passengers of Kaduna bound train die

*Pleads that terrorists’ extension of ultimatum by 1 week must be utilized to secure their release

*Urges Buhari to, in his capacity as C-in-C, put in place measures to ensure their release

*The 62 abducted passengers will soon be released if…, says Tukur Mamu

By Aaron Ossai and Disun Amosun

Federal lawmaker, Hon. Bamidele Salam has pleaded with the federal government not to allow passengers of a Kaduna bound train abducted by bandits to die in the hands of their abductors.

Briefing newsmen in Abuja, Hon. Salam recalled that the ultimatum given to the federal government by the bandits to meet their demands or they will kill the victims who have already spent three months in the kidnappers’ den expired yesterday.

He however expressed happiness that the abductors had extended the ultimatum by another one week and urged the federal government to make use of the window created by the extension to secure their release.

He implored President Muhammadu Buhari to, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces put in place effective measures to make the country safe and secure the release of the 168 people kidnapped in an attack on a train along the Abuja-Kaduna rail line in Kaduna State on March 28.

Speaking further, the lawmaker charged the government at the center to approach the issue of worsening insecurity in the country with the same level of resources and zeal with which party primaries are being held for there to be sanity in the country’s security architecture.

He noted that the government, whose major responsibility is to ensure the safety of lives and property of the people, is not doing enough in correcting the ills of insecurity in the country, especially kidnapping for ransom and its attendant loss of lives.

According to the lawmaker, “A report by Dataphyte reveals that in January 2022, 915 of the 1486 victims of kidnapping or insecurity lost their lives over the years. We cannot continue along this path, the kidnappings and deaths resulting from them represent a stain on our national conscience.”

Hon. Salam further noted that for the Kaduna train attack to have happened in broad daylight without any sign of effective counter offensive speaks a lot to a defect in the country’s security system.

He said irrespective of spirited efforts by some security apparatus in the country, no government can aspire to legitimacy and relevance if it fails the basic test of ensuring the safety and well-being of the people who elected it to office.

“What needs to be done to secure the release of the Kaduna train victims must be done. Too many precious Nigerian lives have been lost to kidnappers and other malevolent individuals to permit these hapless victims of the train hijack, still in the kidnappers den after three months of abduction, to become a latest statistics of a nefarious enterprise that has sullied the national image”, he said.

Asked of his opinion about the motion passed on the floor of the Senate, criminalising the payment of Ransom to kidnappers, Rep Salam described it as a misplaced piece of legislation, arguing that if the authorities fail in securing the release of kidnapped victims, it should not stop relatives who can afford it from securing the release of their wards.

In a related development, reports had it that the link man between the abductors of the train passengers and the federal government, Tukur Mamu has stated that the 62 passengers will be released soon if both parties keep to the current negotiations between them.

Mamu who was reported to have disclosed this in an interview in Kaduna said the demand of the terrorist is that apart from the release of their eight children in detention, government should also consider releasing their commanders and some of their leaders.

“They want a situation where all these peoples mentioned are exchanged with the train passengers on the basis of prisoners of war, ” Mamu was quoted to have said.

He was quoted to have further disclosed that negotiations between government agents and the terrorists had started prior to his involvement, just as he added that he had been able to secure the assurances and confidence of the terrorists, which he said would lead to the release of the victims.

“I think it is important for the public to understand that there was an initial discussion with agents of government that they [government] should release their children as a precondition for any engagement that will lead to the release of the train victims with them.

“When I came in and they asked me to convey their message to the government, and when they mentioned the same demand, I insisted that before I could be involved in this, I must go with something concrete to the government.

“It must be a good bargain for both sides. A situation where we release your eight children, and in return you are not releasing anybody, I will not be part of that.

“Except you are saying that it will be a start in which the women and other people will be released. I told them that it would be a bad bargain, and even if I were to be in government, I would not accept it as it has to be reciprocal.

“So after a long discussion with them, I have them on record; there was headway, he was said to have added.