The Bishop of Anglican Communion, Kaduna Diocese, Timothy Yahaya has asked the Federal Government to fasten the release of all the victims of the March 28 Kaduna train attack from the custody of their abductors.
On March 28, terrorists attacked an Abuja-Kaduna-bound train in Kaduna State, killing eight passengers, injuring 26 and whisking away 62 others into the forest.
Over two months after the incident, the Anglican cleric wonders why it is taking the Federal Government a long time to either rescue the victims unhurt or negotiate with the terrorists who are demanding the release of their eight children detained by security agencies in Adamawa State.
He spoke on the sidelines of the Anglican Synod in Kaduna, where he also kicked against the proposed terrorism bill by the National Assembly to prohibit and criminalise the payment of ransoms to kidnappers by families of victims.
Bishop Timothy stated that rather the reverse should be the case whereby heads of security agencies where there is a security breach within their areas of jurisdiction should be punished or removed.
This, he noted, will make them be alive to their responsibilities of protecting the lives and properties of the citizens.
The Bishop also warned political parties against imposing unpopular candidates and people with a questionable character through consensus, noting that the tenets of democracy paves way for the majority to have their way.
The presidency says negotiations are ongoing to rescue those abducted on the Kaduna-Abuja rail line earlier in the year.
Presidential aide Garba Shehu said this on Friday while reacting to the suspension of the resumption of operations on the rail track.
“Of course, we are aware that there has been resistance from family members of those who have been taken captive,” he said when he featured on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
“This is expected. This then should act as a pressure on all of the people who are involved in the ongoing discussion with the terrorists to ensure a safe release of those that are being held.”
He explained that the government is committed to ensuring that those affected by the attack and still in captivity will be released alive even though the negotiations might be difficult.
“The position of the government has been stated and restated over time that the success of any operation would be determined by the number of recovery of human beings alive and well; not at the return of dead bodies,” he maintained.
Mr Shehu said the government wants normalcy to return to the Kaduna-Abuja route, noting that there is an improvement in the security of the area.
“Yes, there is an improvement in security. The air surveillance has been announced by the former Minister of Transportation (Rotimi Amaechi) and the President, as far as we know, has okayed the electronic monitoring and surveillance platform that would ensure that there is the tracking, far and near, of all that is going on along the rail track; not only between Kaduna and Abuja but even Ibadan and Lagos,” the media aide stated.
“So, I believe that people are doing what it would take to put those appliances in place so that total safety would be ensured.”
To buttress his point about the safety of the rail track, he said he would have been on board had the services resumed as planned.
“If the trains had resumed, I would have been on the train because I believe that I have received enough assurances from the Ministry of Transportation and security services that they are safe,” the presidential aide said.
Police operatives have foiled an attack by suspected terrorists in a community located along the Kaduna-Abuja highway.
According to the spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, Mohammed Jalige, the operatives acting on intelligence report sighted the bandits who were in large numbers around Kurmin Kare village, a locality along Kaduna – Abuja highway of Chikun Local Government Area.
He said the terrorists were on a heinous mission to an unidentified location, when operatives of the command led by the Divisional Police Officer, Kateri, immediately mobilised to the location and successfully repelled the bandits, forcing them to abort their criminal intent.
Jalige further disclosed that the operation led to the recovery of an AK-47 rifle loaded with ten (10) rounds of live 7.62x39mm ammunition as well as one hundred and eighty (180) rounds of live 7.92x57mm General-Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) ammunitions.
Though many of the bandits escaped with bullet wounds, the PPRO explains that effort is being intensified to locate the injured terrorists for possible arrest and prosecution.
Meanwhile, the police authorities have urged all the adjoining communities to report any person with suspicious injuries to the nearest security formation.
The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) has suspended train services on the Kaduna-Abuja route following the bombing of the rail tracks.
Yet-to-be-identified persons had bombed a portion of the rail track on the Kaduna end during an attack on Wednesday night.
Confirming the incident, the corporation said it was already making efforts to repair the damaged tracks and restore services along the route in the northern part of the country.
In a statement on Thursday, the management of the corporation said the explosives damaged the rail tracks somewhere between Dutse and Rijana areas of Kaduna.
Barely a day after the attack, a former lawmaker representing Kaduna Central senatorial district, Senator Shehu Sani, narrated how he escaped an accident as a result of the bombing.
A Miraculous Escape
According to him, the attack was carried out by armed bandits who opened fire on the train, targeting its driver.
“Yesternight, bandits attacked the Kaduna-Abuja train,” Senator Sani said in a Facebook post on Thursday. “They planted an explosive that damaged the rail track and shattered the windshield of the train engine.
“They also opened fire, targeting the driver and the tank. It happened between Dutse and Rijana stations. The driver struggled to move towards Kaduna Rigasa station.
“This early morning, I was on board when our train ran over another explosive damaged railing. The train nearly skidded off its track, then we miraculously escaped.”
He advised authorities to suspend all train operations on the Kaduna-Abuja route until the issue was properly addressed.
The attack occurred the same day when Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, received a report on the security issues in the state.
The report indicated that 343 lives were lost in Kaduna in the last three months, as a result of violence.
Of the figure, 193 deaths were reported in the southern region of the state while the central and northern regions recorded 130 and 20 deaths respectively.
However, security operatives killed over 69 criminals and rescued 101 people from the captivity of kidnappers.
At least nineteen people have died in a motor accident along the Kaduna-Abuja highway.
The accident according to security reports occurred on Sunday at the Kateri axis of the Kaduna-Abuja highway.
The Kaduna state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, explained that the crash, which occurred late Sunday evening, involved a commercial DAF trailer caused by a combination of speeding.
He said the tyre exploded, leading to a loss of control thereby causing the vehicle to veer into the bush.
Mr Aruwan noted that a total of fifty-three (53) people were involved in the crash; of which 16 of them died on the spot, with three others later confirmed dead.
Thirty-four others who sustained injuries of various degrees were evacuated from the scene by personnel of the Federal Road Safety Corps and rushed to the hospital for treatment.
According to eyewitnesses, most of the passengers on board the ill-fated trailer was picked at Kara, by a filling station in Lagos, with some to be dropped off at Zaria, while Kano was meant to be the final destination.
Meanwhile, Governor Nasir El-Rufai has expressed shock and sadness over the incident and prays for the repose of the souls of those who perished in the crash, while sending condolences to their families.
He also wished the injured victims a speedy recovery.
The Governor enjoins drivers on the route to exercise caution at all times and avoid potentially dangerous driving practices such as speeding.
Following complaints by citizens on the alleged erecting of checkpoints on the Kaduna-Abuja Road by some security personnel, the Kaduna State Security Council has announced that its decision of 4th September 2019, prohibiting checkpoints on the Kaduna-Abuja Road is still in force.
The Kaduna State Security Council had last year issued the advisory, notifying citizens that there was to be no authorized checkpoint along the Kaduna-Abuja Road and other routes, to and fro.
“Any person or group of persons observed to be manning checkpoints along these routes at any time must be considered as carrying out illegal operations and must be treated as such. Road users are strictly warned not to show compliance with any checkpoint on this route at this time,” a statement by Samuel Aruwan, the commissioner of internal security and home affairs, read.
By the statement, citizens are advised to report any violating of this directive to the Security Operation Centre on the following emergency lines: 09034000060, 08170189999.
The Kaduna-Abuja train service has resumed passenger operations, nearly four months after services were stopped due to the nationwide lockdown imposed as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The railway opened bookings for passenger services on Wednesday morning with four trains a day connecting Kaduna to Abuja.
Railway health officials at the Rigasa Train station told Channels Television that coaches and the premises have been decontaminated before the resumption of passenger service.
Passengers were also mandated to wash their hands with soap at the entry point, their luggages were decontaminated, while their body temperatures were screened before being allowed to move to the ticket point.
In line with social distancing guidelines, the number of passengers per couch has also been cut down by half while the railway management has made the wearing of face mask and use of hand sanitizers compulsory.
Residents of Sabon Gaya community in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State have appealed to the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the Kaduna-Abuja highway due to the incessant kidnapping of travellers and killing of innocent citizens along the highway.
The residents want the government to deploy more security personnel and helicopters to flush out the bandits from their hideouts.
Their request on Wednesday followed the gruesome murder of the Head of the Civilian Joint Task Force by suspected kidnappers on Sunday, last week.
The murder shocked and angered the people of the Sabon Gaya community and they blocked the Abuja-Kaduna highway on Sunday in anger, a decision that caused a gridlock that lasted for more than seven hours on the highway.
As far as the residents are concerned, the decision to block the road is justifiable as its objective was to draw the attention of the government to their plight.
They shared their views on the matter when the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 7, Salisu Fagge, visited the community.
Fagge was there to monitor the ‘show of force’ by the Kaduna Police Command, and interact with the locals in order to find the best way of stopping kidnapping and banditry along the highway and the neighbouring communities.
The AIG told the residents that the police have the capacity to end insecurity in the area, and warned them against taking laws into their hands to the detriment of others.
He said, “I’m here based on the instruction by IGP to talk to the people of Sabon Gaya over what happened on Sunday that led to the blocking of the road by angry members if the community to protest the killing of one of their sons who was a vigilante while working in his farm.
“I want to assure the members if the community that, we have the capacity and power to provide security. We want to enjoin you to always report happenings to the police who are willing to salvage the situation.
“Nobody is allowed to take laws into their hands. It is not in the best interest of anyone to block Kaduna-Abuja highway knowing its importance as linking road between the North and the South.”
He appealed to them to maintain the peace and contact the District Police Officer whenever the need arises.
“While we are trying to protect you, you also have a role to play to make us succeed greatly in this fight against crime,” Fagge said.
“We need information and intelligent to deliver better. Tell us where they are, how they are preparing, where they lie down and we will respond immediately. We don’t want to hear such a thing again not only in this area but everywhere across the zone.”
On behalf of his people, the traditional ruler of Gbagyi chiefdom, Danjuma Barde, thanked the security operatives for their efforts to safeguard lives and property of his people.
“We commend the efforts of our security men especially the police. But I want to tell you that, most of the killings happen in the bush when our people go to their farms. I want to plead with IGP Idris if he can help us to monitor the area using an helicopter. That will help us a great deal because the criminals do their evil work more outside the town,” he said.
The Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris has called on communities in Kachia and Kagarko Local Government Areas of Kaduna state to collaborate with the police in curbing the incessant Kidnapping and armed robbery attacks on travellers along the Abuja-Kaduna Highway.
The Police boss made the appeal during a visit to the area to access the ongoing operation by his men, also approved the establishment of a new divisional police station that will be sited along the Kaduna-Abuja highway, as part of efforts to ensure security of lives and property in the area.
He also assured that the abducted school students in Lagos state will soon regain freedom as police and other security agencies are working tirelessly to rescue them from their abductors.
The Inspector General of Police had four months ago, deployed about five hundred special forces to the area with a mandate to fish out the criminals and restore security to the area.
Sadly, despite the presence of security operatives on the highway, the bandits have continued to carry out their nefarious activities almost unhindered.
Addressing the people in Hausa Language, the Inspector General of Police said that the incessant kidnapping of travellers along the Kaduna-Abuja road has become a major national security concern that needs collective effort to tackle.
Residents of the communities while pledging their support to the ongoing security operations by the police in the area, expressed concern about the activities of the herdsmen who are still inside the bush from where they terrorise the people.
President of the United Church of Christ in Nigeria, Rev. Emmanuel Dziggau and two other clergy men who were abducted along Kaduna-Abuja Expressway by gunmen have regained their freedom after ten days in captivity.
Spokesman for the Kaduna State Police Command, Zubairu Abubakar, confirmed the freedom of the two religious leaders as well as the death of one of them to our correspondent.
Rev. Dziggau, Rev. Yakubu Dzarma and Rev. Iliya Anto were abducted on March 21 along the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway where they had gone to clear a piece of land for the foundation of the church seminary.
However, Rev. Iliya Anto was said to have died after he was left in the bush by the kidnappers following his health condition.
A top official of United Church of Christ who pleaded anonymity said on Thursday, that Dziggau and Dzarma were freed on Wednesday night while the corpse of Rev. Anto was found, almost decomposing in the bush.
According to him, the two clergymen were immediately taken to a private hospital in Kaduna after they were brought to the church along Katsina Road in Kaduna metropolis.
According to him, “The person who went to collect them drove them on a bike from where they dropped them for four hours before they could reach a motorable road. This is very traumatic and they need some rest.”
The source explained that Anto’s corpse was found in the bush after he was abandoned by the kidnappers because of his ill health.
He said a day after their abduction, the kidnappers had called to inform that Anto was not well and they had dropped him at a location in the bush.
The source, however, declined to say whether a ransom was paid for the release of the two kidnapped clergies.