NRC Authorities Bow To Pressure, Cancels Resumption Of Abuja-Kaduna Route Train Services

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By Elizabeth Chukwuma

Hopes of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, and Authorities, at the instance of Rotimi Amaechi, a former minister of Transportation and who incidentally was a former governor of Rivers state to resume the Abuja-Kaduna route services have crashed. 

This is  because  families and relations of those abducted  by the Bandits Group gang  operating in the north west western state of Kaduna along the Abuja –Kaduna  highway  on March 28, 2022,  have vowed that train  services  along the profitable route  in the north  would not resume  until the 62 victims are released from captivity.

. Okhiria: Managing Director, NRC

Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, had said that ‘’this should be expected’’, noting that ‘’there has been resistance from the family members of those who have been taken captive by the Criminal elements. Recall that the Corporation under the close watch of Fidet Okhiria, an Engineer,   had promised their Abuja and Kaduna Passengers who have lost the comfort of their train services since March 28, 20222, that it would resume operations in May, 2022.

The Okhiria led Management may have gotten fillers that the situation did not augur  well with the families of those whose relations are still in the custody of the Bandits as they were said to have threatened to disrupt  the operations. Yakub Mahmood, NRC, spokesperson had said that the Management had no option but to shift the date, stating that a new resumption date would be announced.

The Corporation may may have entered into a legal hurdle that may stifle its Abuja-Kaduna route services. Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and Human Rights activist, has dragged   the Corporation and Abubakar Malami, minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, AGF ‘’ to prohibit the Corporation from commencing railway services on the popular Abuja-Kaduna route until adequate  security  and requisite security gadgets are provided  to ensure the safety  and protection of lives and properties on the route’’.   

Ali-Hassan :MD, Bank Of Agriculture, Abducted By Bandits During The March Train Attack. Paid N100m Ransom To secure His Freedom

 There are indications that the families of Alwan Ali-Hassan, Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture, and one of the passengers in the attacked Abuja-Kaduna train route services  had raised N100 million, to pay as ransom , to the Bandits , to secure his freedom. Note that the Bandits attacked Abuja-Kaduna train route services had carried over 362 passengers but the bandits were said to have abducted 62 passengers including  Ali-Hassan, Managing Director, Bank of Agriculture.

. The Bandits were said to have released aPregnant woman who were among the abducted passengers 62 passengers recently. She had given the Bandits kudos for taken   care of their feeding and medical needs buthad said it was not  good enough  as one taken  in his or her home. This may have informed why she has appealed to the Buhari led All Progressive congress, APC,  Government to open a channel of communications to negotiate with the Bandits to facilitate the release of other victims.

  Shehu, the Media Aide to the Katsina state born Nigerian Media Aid, may have shocked Nigerians when he revealed that ‘’negotiations are ongoing to rescue the remaining passengers abducted on the Abuja-Kaduna train route late March 2022. The question on the lips of most people was :who are those that mediating between the two parties to facilitate the release of the victims and at what location.

 The Buhari Media Aide had said that passengers patronizing the Abuja-Kaduna train route services may no longer  have any reason to worry in the future as ‘’there is an improvement in security’’, citing ‘’the air surveillance’’   that has been announced by Amaechi, the former minister of Transportation. He noted that the government has okayed  the electronic  monitoring  and surveillance platform  that would ensure  that there is tracking , far and near,  of all that is going on the track, not only between Abuja and Kaduna route  but even, Ibadan and Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre.

 Appealing to those whose relations are still in the custody of the Bandits to be patient, Mahmood, the NRC, spokesperson, had urged them’’ to  Corporate  with the Corporation  and the security agencies’’ , stressing that that ‘’the government  is exploring all the possible ways  and means  to ensure  the safe release  of their loved ones  from captivity soonest’’.

 Recall that the National Assembly joint Committee on Land Transport had begged the Asian country of China to help rescue the 62 passengers in the custody of the Bandits in their hideout in the bush.  The National Assembly Joint Committee on Land Transport may have made the appeal because the China Civil Engineering and Construction Company, CECC, which is a state owned Company  is making much  money  from the many rail projects  that are being handled in the country, particular, in the north , but that was how far the Committee could go.

Only recently, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Nigerian Vice President, had pleaded with the West African Catho;ic  Bishops who have gathered for a meeting in   Abuja to talk ‘’to the non-state actors  so that they would  not to make the security situation of the country worse’’.

Bisho Onah

Godfrey Igwebuike Onah, one of the  Catholic Bishop’ who had attended the meeting believes that ‘’this is a clear indication   that ‘’the presidency which should know better has left ‘’the ground so free, the country so lawless and so stateless that non-state actors have taken over control of the entire country that they could strike on the Highways’’. The attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train route services and kidnap of 62 Passengers and repeated attack on vehicles along the Abuja-Kaduna High way speaks volume.

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