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Shocker! Boko Haram behind train attack

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Terrorists give FG fresh two weeks ultimatum over train attack victims

Uche Chris/Adebayo Obajemu

The last may not have been heard about the train ambush last week that left the nation bewildered and the government led by President Muhammadu Buhari, overwhelmed and confused, as Gov. Nasir el Rufai of Kaduna state, declared that government was deceiving Nigerians by calling the perpetrators of that dastardly act bandits.

According to him, the train attack was clearly the handiwork of Boko Haram insurgents, because of the style and scale of the operation. He said that only Boko Haram can muster the logistic scale required for the execution of the attack, insisting that the strategy adopted fits perfectly into the modus operandi of previous abductions in the past several years.

He said bandits are mere criminal gangs that lack the network and leadership to make such bold and audacious move that left all security agencies napping. He said government is allowing the problem to fester, mutate and consolidate by delaying prompt and effective response to the new situation.

“We are wasting previous time and prolonging the crisis by not deploying the full weight of our military against these people. They are not bandits, these are Boko Haram. Their signature is all over this attack, and the earlier we to come terms with this truth the better for the nation”, he told BBC Hausa Service on Friday.

“He believed that only massive force as we have in the North east region will deter further attacks.

“I have always maintained on the need for well coordinated, and simultaneously executed military operations covering several states in the North west to stop them from moving from one state to another. The present approach of attacking them in one state at a time is useless because they simply move to the next state to continue with their evil occupation.

“As I have said repeatedly, these people cannot be stopped by moral suasion because the incentive to continue is huge and highly motivating. These people are controlling massive funds that they can afford to pay anything and anybody.”

This is also buttressed by eye witness and survivors’ accounts, who were unanimous in identifying them with the chanting of the common Islamic terrorists’ chorus of Allah Akbah…

He therefore called for the establishment of another theatre command or Joint Task Force to deal with this problem, otherwise, the situation is hopeless.

Last week alone, there were about four different attacks in Kaduna, Abuja, and Niger states excluding the train one. Many Nigerians would easily share Gov. El Rufai sentiments as the security agencies seem completely incapable of rising to the occasion and the people are left to their fate.

A sense of this national outrage was demonstrated at the National Assembly where the law makers showed in no uncertain terms their displeasure with the government and its security agencies for failing the people with calls for the sack of the service chiefs. At the House of Reps, members were so incensed that threatened to shut down in protest over the persisting security situations.

Hon. Doguwa the majority leader, called for Nigerians to be empowered to bear arms to defend themselves, while others called for state of emergency on security. Tempers actually rose after the confession of Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, Transportation minister, that the ambush could have been avoided had the FEC approved the N3 billion security protection project for the rail tracks, although it was later learnt that Amaechi awarded the contract to a crony firm that was only two years old and had no previous experience.

“Nigeria has become a giant maelstrom of fears and killing field where governance has taken flight in deference to bandits as new lords of manor, and our leaders have become mere talkers while the bandits are doers”, said Professor Hassan Jameel, an historian, responding to Business Hallmark’s request for his view on the growing audacity of bandits .

Continuing, “in a saner society, the president would have been impeached for lacking the capacity to protect lives and property, which he had sworn to protect”.

Akin Aina, a Kaduna-based fashion designer told this medium that ” currently, I’m fasting! Why? Because I want to go back to Kaduna after attending my brother’s wedding. He told Business Hallmark that when he was coming to Lagos he had to fast for three days for God to protect him from bandits and kidnappers who have made the Kaduna/Abuja/Lagos highway a nightmare.

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“As far as I’m concerned we don’t have a government in Nigeria. If you doubt me come and spend two days in Kaduna or any part of the north”, he said.

In recent weeks, bandits have threatened the security of Nigerians to a level hitherto unprecedented, and many Nigerians are worried about the present and future of the citizens under Buhari administration.

“The security situation of the country is like a violent movie we watch on our televisions, it is like a nightmare; and we are made to understand there’s government in place. The country has never been this bad”, Adamu Mohammed, a pepper seller at Alade market, Lagos told Business Hallmark in a tone of helplessness and resignation.

There is no doubt that the country is under siege in the various confrontations with our security infrastructure. Experts say the bandits have always had the upper hand, as a result of the sophistication of their weapons and their daring. But a security expert who confided in Business Hallmark on condition of anonymity said the security infrastructure of the country may have been compromised.

“Up till today, has this government got the liver to name and shame sponsors of terror on Nigerians? Their silence on the matter speaks volumes of the position of government on all this violence and killings.

The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) has suspended train services between Abuja and Kaduna until further notice following the attack by bandits on a train Monday night. This is as some family members of passengers aboard the train said they were yet to know the fate of their relatives. However, by weekend, many families said they had been contacted by the kidnappers but no ransom was yet demanded.

Last Monday, bandits planted explosives on the train track and demobilised it around Kateri and Rijana around 8 p.m. Monday.

NRCs Managing Director, Fidel Okhiria, in his initial reaction confirming the attack, had said details were still sketchy. Initially it was reported that over 900 passengers were aboard the train , later the government said it was 360- plus.

“We have confirmed the attack, but we cannot give you much information right now.

“From the reports we have gotten, most of the passengers have gone into hiding and the officials on board are yet to give us a report of the situation.

“Evacuation of passengers on the trapped Kaduna-bound train from Abuja has been concluded this morning by security forces, officials of Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and Nigerian Red Cross.”

Okhiria, in another statement on Monday, said 146 out of the official figure of 362 passengers cannot be reached since the attack, he however, said the number of safe passengers had risen to 186.

Okhiria said 51 phone numbers on the manifest are either switched off or unreachable since Tuesday morning and 35 phone numbers on the manifest are ringing, but no response from the other end.

According to him, 60 phone numbers on the manifest when called, responded non-existent.

He also clarified that 22 persons are reported missing by their relatives and eight persons were confirmed dead.

Part of the statement read, “51 phone numbers on the manifest are either switched off or have not been reachable since Tuesday morning and 35 phone numbers on the manifest are ringing, but no response from the other end. 60 phone numbers on the manifest when called, responded non-existent.

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”The statement is aimed at updating Nigerians on the ongoing development regarding the clearing of the incident site (recovery of the rolling stock, repairs of the track) and status of Passengers that were onboard the AK9 train of Monday, March 28.

”Of the 362 validated passengers on board the attacked AK9 train service on March 28, 186 persons on the manifest are confirmed to be safe and at their various homes (additional 14 persons confirmed safe today).

“Two coaches (SP 00016 and SP 00017) earlier re-railed have safely been moved to Rigasa Station.

”This brings the total number of recovered Coaches and safely moved to NRC Stations to be seven. Intensive work continues on track repairs. More concrete Sleepers were moved to site while some section of twisted tracks has been straightened.

”We remain grateful to the security agencies for all the support. We are very appreciative of Squadron Commander MOPOL 1 Kaduna’s visit to the accident site today.

”NRC will continue to update the general public of developments to prevent misleading information and falsehood.”

However, while official NRC figure said that the travel manifest showed 372 with actually authenticated figure of 364, survivors and other frequent users of the train said that the nine coaches of the train were full, which raises the number to 920, which is capacity of the train.

Many complained of massive ticket racketeering going in the service because of high demand, and this poses a major challenge of determining the actual number of passengers on the trip. Also the workers accused management of disregarding public safety by approving the night journey against the protestations of workers.

A former senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, also took to his Twitter handle to lament the attack.

“They killed some, they injured some & they kidnapped some. The Train attack was preventable. Lessons werent learned from the last tragedy. The trains werent equipped with sensors to detect explosives & the promise of the use of helicopters to protect the trains was abandoned,” Mr. Sani Tweeted.

As the dust began to settle, the names of some victims filtered out. Among those in the ill-fated train were the

Bank of Agriculture MD, Alwan Hassan, his niece, they are all among missing victims. Trade Union Congress (TUC) Secretary-General, Barrister Musa Lawal Ozigi, and a lady medical doctor with the St. Geralds hospital, Chinelo Megafu, are among the dead, according to reports.

A former Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, Malam Ibrahim Wakkala, was equally shot in the leg by the bandits when the train was attached. He was still in the hospital as at the time of this report.

As if the attack on the train was a child’s play, bandits went on rampage in Abuja, Kogi, Kaduna and a host of other states killing people and abducting many others.

According to reports, the bandits killed 11 people last Thursday, and whisked away properties in attacks on two communities: Kabode and Ankuwa in Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Already, reports suggest that due to incessant attacks residents of Shanono area of Rigasa community in Igabi Local Government Area of the state are living in fear after the discovery of a bomb. There is heightened fear across Kaduna State in recent months as terrorists and bandits continued to wreak havoc on communities close to the capital city and beyond.

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In Abuja, among those kidnapped last week was the traditional ruler of Bukpe, a community in Kwali Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Alhaji Hassan Shamidozhi.

The monarchs brother, who is the Chief Imam of the communitys central mosque, Malam Jibrin D. Gimba, said that the incident happened around 9:32pm on Wednesday.

He said the monarch sat in front of his palace to take fresh air before he was whisked away at gunpoint.

On Thursday, Shehu Sani, an activist and a former lawmaker that represented Kaduna Central in the Senate, also tweeted about the presence of the bandits on the highway.

“I just got a distress call that bandits in large numbers have again blocked the Kaduna-Abuja Road this afternoon. Travellers are speedily turning backward.”

A customs officer, Muawiyya Gambo Turaki, his son and eight others were also abducted in a separate attack in Kofar Gayan low-cost, in Zaria by bandits that invaded the area around 9pm last Wednesday.

In Lagos last week, gunmen reportedly stormed the Dangote refinery, which is located at the Lekki Free Trade Zone through the waters. Gunmen in large number, some reports put their numbers at about 20, attacked the Dangote Petrochemical Refinery in the Lekki area of Lagos State but were repelled by alert security operatives guarding the facility, a police statement said.

The invading gunmen reportedly stormed the Dangote refinery, which is located at the Lekki Free Trade Zone through the waters and attempted to cart away installed armoured cables.

It was gathered that security operatives stationed in the refinery repelled the gunmen who fled after being overwhelmed by superior firepower.

 

 

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