By Linus Aleke, Abuja
Finally, the Nigerian Military has secured the release of the remaining, twenty three (23), victims of terror attack in Abuja-Kaduna bound train, after seven months of torture and dehumanizing treatment from the abductors.
The seven member Presidential Committee, inaugurated by the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, on Wednesday took custody of the 23 remaining passengers held hostage by Boko Haram, at exactly 1600Hrs, (4:00pm), 5 October, 2022, the committee said, in a statement.
The statement signed, by the Secretary, Chief of Defense Staff Action Committee (CDSAC), Prof. Usman Yusuf reads: “I am pleased to announce to the nation and the world that at 1600Hrs. (4:00pm) today, Wednesday 5-10-2022, the seven-man Presidential Committee assembled by the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General L E O Irabor, secured the release and took custody of all the 23 remaining passengers held hostage by Boko Haram Terrorists following the attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train on 28-3-2022”.
Prof. Usman said, the nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Nigerian Military under the leadership of the CDS who conceived and guided the operation from start to finish.
He disclosed, that all sister Security Agencies and the Federal Ministry of Transportation, also contributed immensely to this Operation.
“The unwavering support of the President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, is what made it all possible. Members of this Committee are grateful for the rare honour and privilege to be part of this Humanitarian Operation.
May God Almighty Heal Our Wounds and Bring Peace to Our Land,” the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, since, March 28, 2022, when the terrorists successfully attacked the train, killed many and took the rest hostage, the victims had been released in piece meal, with millions of naira extorted from their family members through ransom payment.
The self styled terrorists negotiator, Tukur Mamu played prominent role in the process of ransom negotiation.
However, as at the time of filing this report, it was still unclear whether government paid, ransom before securing the release of the remaining 23 train victims from the terrorists.
The statement that announced the release was also silent on whether any arrest was made during the said operation.
Nevertheless, sources close to the military and other security agencies believe, the release is not unconnected with the humiliation and embarrassment suffered by Federal Government, the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies, when the abductors released a video of 42 victims of the train attack been flogged mercilessly.
The video which, trended in all the social media platforms and also, enjoyed wide publications by the traditional media, also caused serious embarrassment to government.
Another source added that the threat by the terrorists to abduct President Buhari, along with some prominent governors including Kaduna state governor, also, pushed the government to take urgent and drastic measures that midwife today’s success story.
The presidency had at the time said, it would not play into the terrorists’ bait, because its security was neither clueless or helpless on what to do, both to tame general insecurity and rescue the victims in their den.
The Managing Director of the Bank of the Agriculture, Alwan Hassan, was the first to be released after reportedly paying N100 million ransom on April 7.
The terrorists also at some point requested for a prison swap with its high profile members in custody of the state.
Source said that the attack on Kuje Correctional Center in Abuja was also not unconnected with federal government refusal to honour such demand.
Recall also, that the release of the remaining passengers is coming barely one month after the arrest of former negotiator between relatives of the victims of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack and the terrorists, Malam Tukur Mamu, by DSS.
The statement by the secret police revealed that the terror negotiator was intercepted in Cairo, Egypt while waiting for a connecting flight to Saudi Arabia.
In an update on the arrest, the Department of State Services also, said, its personnel who raided the residence and office of Tukur Mamu, publisher of Kaduna-based Desert Herald and Media Consultant to a controversial Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, found incriminating items.
The service had earlier described the detained Mamu as a person of interest.
Dr. Peter Afunanya, the spokesperson of the service said, the DSS listed some of the items found with Mamu to include foreign currencies and military accoutrements among others.
Afunanya said Mamu would be charged to court after the investigation.
The statement read, “So far, appropriate security agencies have executed valid search warrants on Mamu’s residence and office. Other items include large amounts in different currencies and denominations as well as financial transaction instruments. While further investigations continue, Mamu will surely have his day in court.”