VILLA DIARY: Train Journey to Hell

When some train passengers boarded the 6 p.m. Abuja Kaduna train on March 28, they had no idea what was about to happen. Some had business meetings, some were just leaving for the weekend in Kaduna while others were going to visit friends and family.

Few of them thought that this would be their last train ride or that they would suffer their worst traumatic experience.

Unfortunately, that night gunmen blew up the tracks, killing some and kidnapping dozens of passengers.

So far, the bandits have freed passengers in four groups. Last week, seven passengers were released.

The victims were released Wednesday morning after spending 135 days in terrorist custody.

The father of the four children, Abubakar, is the son of a former military administrator of Kano and Benue States, Mamu, Major General Chris Garba, and also a staff member of the National Assembly Commission.

The terrorists also freed a 60-year-old woman, Hajia Aisha Hassan, who was reportedly freed due to life-threatening health issues that recently deteriorated.

So far, 42 victims have regained their freedom. The number of those still in captivity now stands at 35.

President Muhammadu Buhari met with representatives of the victims of the Kaduna train kidnapping in Abuja on Thursday, assuring them that the federal government is doing everything in its power to ensure the safe return of the remaining captives.

Offering his condolences to the families of the victims and those who lost their loved ones, the President said that since the “terrible and cowardly attack of the criminal elements” on March 28, 2022, the nation has joined them in enduring a period difficulties and emotional pain.

The president told the family representatives that immediately after the incident, several measures were taken by the government to bring relief to the affected families and prevent it from happening again in the country.

He also explained his reason for rejecting the use of lethal military force to extract the remaining abductees.

”I have been informed that at last count there are approximately 31 people remaining in the hands of the kidnappers, and we are determined to work for the return of these 31 people to their families.

“It’s understandable that emotions are generally running high, we have received several suggestions regarding the deployment of lethal military force to extract those still being held captive.

This option has indeed been considered and assessed.

“However, the condition of ensuring a positive outcome and minimizing potential collateral damage could not be ensured, and therefore this course of action had to be reluctantly discarded.

“My main concern is to make sure everyone is released safe and sound,” he said.

In his remarks, Transport Minister Jaji Sambo said that during the first week of his resumption in the ministry, he had met the relatives of the victims of the Kaduna train attack, informing them of all efforts deployed by the government to ensure the safe return of their loved ones.

He described the audience with the president as a manifestation of this administration’s efforts to secure the release of all captives and proof that the “government is not resting on its oars.”

A representative of the victims of the train abduction, Alhaji Sabiu Mohammed, called on the federal government to help the families release their loved ones still in captivity.

”Please we want to see our loved ones and many have found themselves in very critical situations. We don’t have the money they (kidnappers) want. Please Mr. President, we know you are doing your best…please, please we want to see our loved ones,” Mohammed said.