The Federal Government has disclosed that no ransom was paid in exchange for the release of the 23 remaining Abuja-Kaduna train hostage and for other victims as well.
The Minister of Transportation, Engr. Mu’azu Sambo made this known during a press briefing at the weekend in Abuja to welcome the victims released by terrorists, but after hours of waiting, the minister explained that the victims needed to be reunited with their relatives and couldn’t make it to the ministry.
Recall that terrorists attacked and kidnapped Abuja-Kaduna train passengers on March 28, 2022, six months and seven days ago.
Sambo said short- and long-term plans are ongoing to resume the suspended train service quickly and measures are emplaced to ensure that, going forward, such incidents will not happen again in the country
Short term measures will be put in place quickly to enable rail line commence and, within months, a sustainable plan will ensure that rain lines are safe and secured for people.
“It is not appropriate to reveal exactly what measures have been taken to secure the release of the hostages of this nature.
“All through this incident, it is the position of the government that, under no circumstance should there be collateral damage. We all know what collateral damage is. In other words, the military and agencies charged with releasing these hostages should not act in a way that will endanger their lives. In other words, make sure that no hostage’s life is lost while securing their release.
“The committee is made up of some retired generals and high-ranking, retired public officers who assisted the military and the security agencies throughout the process of securing the release of these hostages.
“Number three, I want to state categorically that, because this government does not support and approve ransom payment, no kobo was paid in exchange for the release of these 23 hostages and other ones as well.”
Speaking further on the rain service resumption, he said: “Rather than risk the life of a single Nigerian, we will stop the rail service. We cannot resume, knowing the kind of trauma those victims and their loved ones went through. We felt that it was not appropriate to resume rail service.
“I can tell you that we are going to resume very soon. In order to resume rail service, we have to put in place measures that will ensure that, going forward, such incidents never happen in this country.
“The primary responsibility of any government, as enshrined in our constitution, is the protection of the citizens’ lives and property. This is what this government has always done and will continue to do.
Explaining why the victims were not at the ministry, Sambo said: “The intention was for them to be here today. They were treated and we ensured everyone was in good condition.
“Also, they were given replacement clothing. Mr. President happened to be in Kaduna yesterday for the passing out parade at the Nigerian Defence Academy [and this] provided an opportunity for him to meet with the 23 that were released and, after meeting them, they were reunited with their families.
“It became difficult to get them back together and bring them here. But the last time we spoke with their coordinator, they said they have a plan to appreciate the government through the ministry of transportation. Hopefully, they will come next week.”
Speaking on the rehabilitation plan for the newly-released abductees, the permanent secretary of the ministry, Dr. Magdalene Ajani said the victims are free to access post-traumatic stress disorder treatment. “The plans for post-traumatic rehabilitation of the victims and [their] family members are on. They have an open link to the hospital to go through this process where the victims live. Most of them are residents in Kaduna and, for the ones that were released earlier, they have open access to the hospital for sure care,” she said.