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No ransom paid for release of 23 remaining train attack victims – Minister

…Train service may resume in three months

The Federal Government has said that no ransom was paid to secure the release of the 23 remaining kidnapped victims of the Abuja-Kaduna train that was attacked on 28 March, 2022.

Briefing newsmen in Abuja on Friday, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’Azu Jaji Sambo, said: “I want to state categorically that because this government does not support or approve ransom payment; no kobo was paid in exchange for the release of the 23 hostages and even for the release of the other hostages.”

He said the victims were released following the combined effort of a committee set up by the Federal Government made up of retired Generals and some retired public officers of high ranking and status, who assisted the military and the security agencies throughout the process of securing the release of the hostages.

It will be recalled that about 62 persons were kidnapped by the terrorists after attacking the Abuja-Kaduna Train Service on March 28, 2022. The terrorists reportedly freed about 39 victims after collecting N100 million as ransom. Unfortunately the Federal Government could not secure the release of the remaining hostages until after six months and five days.

The Minister was not specific about whether the victims were released or rescued.

“It is not appropriate to reveal exactly what measures have been taken in order to secure the release of hostages of this nature. The security agencies were charged to ensure no collateral damage was recorded in freeing the victims; that is make sure that no one hostage’s life is lost in the process of securing their release,” he said.

Sambo stated that after securing the release of the victims, they were taken to the Nigeria Air Force Hospital, adding that they were recuperating at the Nigeria Defence Academy Hospital in Kaduna State.

When asked if the victims would be compensated he said: “Honestly, I have no answer for that question.” But the Permanent Secretary, Magdalene Ajani, said due to the trauma suffered by both the victims and their families, the hospitals would still be open to them to go through rehabilitation.

He, however, disclosed that commercial services may resume in three months after all necessary security measures have been put in place, saying: “In the next three months, we will put in place a sustainable plan that will ensure that our rail lines are safe and secure and people can travel on them with their minds and hearts assured of safety.

“Now, I can tell you we are going to resume very soon and in order to resume train services, we have to put in place measures that will ensure that going forward such an incident never ever happens in this country. And so we have a short term and a long-term plan.”

Credit: The Guardian

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