Train Attack: Two Weeks After Abduction, Families Propose Dialogue With Bandits

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It’s been long tortures and agonising moments for families whose relatives were abducted when bandits attacked an Abuja-Kaduna-bound train last month.

The attack which occurred on March 28 at Dutse forest in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State left eight people killed and 26 others injured while scores of passengers went missing – suspected to have been abducted by the bandits.

Two weeks after the victims went missing, their families are hopeful of freedom from captivity, although they have refused to rule out the option of negotiating with the bandits.

They have also held regular meetings with anticipated responses from the government but without such news coming yet, they turned to prayers to seek God’s intervention in their predicament.

Opportunity For Rescue

Dr Abdulfatai Jimoh, who chairs the group of the relatives of the abducted persons, wants the government to dialogue with the bandits as they have demanded in a recent viral video.

He said this was necessary and not out of place since the government seemed incapacitated to protect the people.

“The kidnappers said we should be ready that they would contact us, and we have not heard any communication from them since then,” Jimoh said. “Since this incident happened, we expected that by now, the government, the Nigerian Railway Corporation, and the Federal Ministry of Transportation, are supposed to have identified relatives of the victims to tell us what effort they are making or not to rescue our loved ones unhurt.”

“In fact, the primary duty of any government is to protect the lives and property of citizens. We believe our government can do it and it’s capable of doing it. Until a few days ago we had been expecting telephone calls from the abductors because that’s what they promised us but when we saw the video, they made it very clear that they want to discuss with the government; that they have something with the government.

“We don’t know what they want from the government. But it’s now an opportunity and a window for the government to rescue our loved ones by opening channel of communication with them (terrorists). This is not out of place. It is done anywhere in the world.”

Living Corpses?

According to the families, the government owes the people the responsibility of ensuring their safety at all times, but authorities have continued to be nonchalant and insensitive to securing the release of their loved ones.

This has worsened their agony as they wonder why the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Railway Corporation has not reached out to them for updates on the efforts being made to ensure the kidnapped passengers return home unhurt.

While abductors have yet to contact them for ransom, the families met on Monday and agreed to issue a 72-hour ultimatum to the Federal Government, a failure of which they would take a decision on how to rescue their relatives.

Some of them have become overwhelmed by their emotions as they appeal to the Federal Government to ensure the speedy rescue of the victims from the hands of their abductors.

“We don’t know what is between them but it is something that can be resolved in the interest of the lives of Nigerian citizens,” Jimoh stated. “Life is very sacred even if it is one life that’s involved.

“We are appealing to Nigeria government to do everything within its powers and it is something that’s not beyond the government to do. We are appealing to them to come out to open a channel of discussion with the bandits and get our loved ones out as quickly as possible.

“We have been in serious anguish in the past 15 days. Many of us have not been sleeping, we have not been sleeping. We are like living corpses. We have decided collectively that we are giving the government 72 hours to do everything that’s necessary to rescue our loved ones.”

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and the nation’s service chiefs had visited Kaduna to sympathise with the families and promised to ensure the return of the kidnapped persons, as well as apprehend and bring the bandits to justice.

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