President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that efforts be increased to urgently rescue the abducted Abuja-Kaduna train passengers that are still languishing in the custody of their abductors in the forests.
The President however issued a clear directive that the hostages must be brought home alive.
Suspected terrorists had attacked the train in March and abducted several passengers. Last week, they released 11 of their hostages after the intervention of a popular Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi.
Before then, the gunmen released two other passengers, including a pregnant woman.
Giving an update on efforts to secure the release of the remaining victims, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the federal government is “making all efforts to trace and bring back the 51 or more still being held in custody”.
A statement issued on Tuesday by Shehu stated that the government is continuing on a two-lane approach – kinetic and non-kinetic — to secure the passengers’ safe release.
Shehu said the president directed security agencies to treat the rescue of the passengers with urgency.
“As the government continues to review the issue of the kidnapped railway passengers and making all efforts to trace and bring back the 51 or more still being held in custody, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed increased efforts – kinetic and non-kinetic to bring the case to a closure.
“Upon the President’s approval, the Government is continuing on the two-lane approach, kinetic and non-kinetic to secure the passengers’ safe release.
“The kidnappers made a demand for the release of their own children and upon the settlement of that issue, they let go eleven of the victims, even though more were expected.
“The setback notwithstanding, the Government is not leaving any stone unturned in the efforts to bring all of the hostages back.
“The Defence, Security and Intelligence Agencies have given assurances to intensify operational engagements geared towards securing the rescue of all hostages and restoring peace to all parts of the country.
“Government is also mindful of efforts of some patriotic and influential persons and institutions that are helping in securing the safe release of the hostages”, he said.
DIPLOMATIC DIARY had reported how eleven of the over 50 abducted persons were freed earlier in the month.
Shehu said that President Buhari welcomed the return of the eleven passengers back to their families, and expressed his commitment to ensuring that those still in captivity are released and reunited with their loved ones “in the shortest time possible”.
“President Buhari welcomes the return of the recently released passengers back to their families and loved ones, while expressing his solemn commitment to the families of those still in captivity, assuring that there will be no let-up until they are reunited with their families in the shortest time possible.
“The President’s clear directive on the issue is that the hostages must be brought home alive. The country’s military and security agencies are aware of their duty to the nation and are determined to give effect to the President’s charge with increased urgency”, he added.