The Federal Government has presented six Hilux patrol vehicles equipped with radar scanners to the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) for effective monitoring of security solution on the Abuja-Kaduna railway corridor.
Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, while handing over the vehicles to the NRC Managing Director, Mr Fidet Okhiria, at the Idu Train Station, Abuja, said, “We are all aware of the security situation in the country as a whole; we thought about supporting NRC on the security architecture of the Idu-Abuja rail track.”
He also said, “Remember this is a project that has long been completed, commissioned and operational. So this was a project for 2021, at least to improve the security apparatus tor the patrolling of that route and so, the ministry has to procure these vehicles to support the NRC and the Nigeria Police working on that route to effectively police that route and that is why the ministry procured this.”
The minister, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Mrs Magdalene Ajani, said the vehicles were “to aid what the security agents are doing. If there is an emergency call, they will be able to move from point A to B and it may not necessarily be along the rail track. It is part of the things that they need to do to keep the place safe.”
According to the minister, most of the rail tracks have security gadgets, just as there are local people patrolling along with the civil defence, the police corps of the Nigerian Railway Corporation.
“But for the movement of the security personnel, we need these vehicles.”
He further said that the vehicles went through a proper procurement process.
Speaking earlier, the Managing Director, NRC, Mr. Fidet Okhiria stated that the move was to show that the corporation had risen up to the security challenges it was facing, adding, “The minister has decided to buy us some vehicles to ease insecurity around the tracks. That is why today, what we are doing is the handing over of the six Hilux vehicles that can be used for patrol, aiding the security personnel in moving about and ensuring that the tracks are secured and guarded.”
On how the vehicles would get to the tracks, the NRC MD said, “If we have issues, like maybe someone is arrested, we have to move there and we have to get there. And we are also to get some machines to put at various stations, two or three machines for easier access so that if there is any report, we can get there in other words, these machines are mainly on ground at areas that are accessible and where is not accessible, we can send the vehicles there and this is a step in a right direction and these vehicles were already in the plan.”
FG won’t resume Abuja-Kaduna train service until all abducted passengers are freed – Minister
Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, has said the Abuja-Kaduna train service will remain shut indefinitely until the kidnapped victims are reunited with their families and additional security measures provided.
He also said the proposed surveillance security equipment on rail tracks would be procured soon.
The minister spoke after he inspected the Idu, Abuja Train Station, on Tuesday.
“It is very important to get those Nigerians that have been kidnapped reunited with their families, otherwise it will appear the government is not sensitive whereas the government is not only sensitive but the government is doing everything it can to make sure that those who have been affected by this abduction are reunited with their families.”
“You must put in place adequate security and infrastructural measures to protect and prevent all forms of threats that are possible and leave what you cannot do to God but everything humanly possible must be put in place to ensure that the reoccurrence of this nature is automatically eliminated forever. Technology can make that possible and we are trying to deploy the best technology available anywhere in the world that has served very well in other jurisdictions which we believe can also serve us very well in Nigeria.”
A memo to procure a N3 billion rail track sensors by the immediate past Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, was rejected at the Federal Executive Council.
However, the current minister said the procurement would still happen.
“We are in the process of procuring the sensors and that is why I said we must ensure that we put in place every infrastructure that will ensure that lives are safeguarded. So, the technology that is going to be deployed is such that you can perceive a threat and eliminate it before you get to the location; that is being proactive.
“The best way to travel as far as I am concerned is by train and by the grace of God, we will make sure these services resume but not until those things I mentioned have been achieved. Rescue or reunion of those that have been kidnapped with their families and putting in place technology that will ensure that threats to lives are eliminated,” he said.
Terrorists release professor, four other abducted train passengers
Five of the passenger abducted by terrorists from a Kaduna-bound train on March 28, 2022, have been released.
Among the freed passengers are Prof. Mustapha Umar Imam, a medical doctor at the Usman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital (UDUS), Sokoto.
Daily Trust in its report said Imam was shot in captivity, raising concerns about his safety.
Other passengers also released are Akibu Lawal, Abubakar Ahmed Rufai, Muktar Shuaibu and Sidi Aminu Sharif.
Kaduna-based Publisher, Tukur Mamu, who engaged in negotiating the release of the victims but backed out due to threats to his life, confirmed their release to Daily Trust on Tuesday.
It is unclear if any ransom was paid for the victims, whose release occurred three weeks after seven train passengers were set free after an N800 million ransom.
It was reliably gathered that families of each of the six Nigerian victims paid N100 million while the captors pegged the ransom for the Pakistani at N200 million which was also paid.
The report quoted a source as saying, “Only N200 million was collected in naira, the remaining N600 million was paid in the equivalent of US dollars.”
“All the families of the victims felt abandoned by the federal government and therefore had to pay for the release of their loved ones,” a source close to one of the released victim said.
“The truth is that the FG is indifferent to our plight…Those in power don’t care if the captives are all killed. That is why we sold our property and raised the money. It is the same for the families of all those released. We all paid through our nose but Alhamdulillah, it is worth it.”
The abductors had earlier released three batches of the captives, including managing director of the Bank of Agriculture, Alwan Hassan, a group of eleven victims and a pregnant woman released alone.
A security source told one of our correspondents that the federal government rarely secures the release of any captive.
“Government is not amenable to releasing terrorists in their custody because of some international convention.
“It is however sad that in Nigeria, while we don’t agree to prisoner swap most of the time, the terrorists always have their way as evident in the recent attack on Kuje Prison where many high profile terrorists were released.
“We don’t have the capacity to protect our prison facilities and we don’t have the capacity to protect the citizens. Hundreds of terrorists have been set free in various prisons…It is unfortunate,” he said.
Abductors of train passengers release three more captives
Terrorists who about three months ago attacked an Abuja-Kaduna train and kidnapped over 60 passengers on Monday released three more captives.
Some 20 victims had earlier been released at different times after their families were reportedly made to pay ransom.
A relative of one of the latest released victims told the BBC that those freed included two men and a woman.
This is coming about 24 hours after a video was released showing how the remaining kidnapped train passengers were being flogged and dehumanised.
While disclosing the news to the BBC, the relative said the released victims were on the way to a health facility for medical examination
The BBC report said there was no detailed explanation on the condition met before the additional three victims were released.
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