Defence & Security

Buhari assures families of train attack victims’ safe return

• Tasks military, NRC on rescue mission coordination

By Paul Michael, Defence Editor, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that the terrorists who attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train on March , 2022, are using their captives as shields from military bombardments.

The President made the claims on Monday when he hosted some FCT residents at State House on Sallah homage, adding that the terrorists do not care if their hostages are killed during rescue mission. Noting that the situation requires wisdom, caution and patience.

A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, further indicated that Buhari assured families that efforts are ongoing to ensure the return of all captives alive and unhurt while ordering the management of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) to create situation room for the coordination of hostages safe return.

According to the statement, the President said bandits and terrorists, unlike professional soldiers, don’t respect the rules of engagement and could resort to harming hostages when attacked.

Buhari said, “As we celebrate this occasion with joy amidst friends and family members, we are fully conscious of the fact that many families in our country are in a state of fear and anxiety on account of the many captives held by terrorists against their will, including those taken away after the tragic bombing of the Abuja – Kaduna train.

“I have directed security agencies to ensure quick and safe recovery of all victims of kidnapping. I urge the railway management to immediately set up a situation room for the coordination of the rescue mission and for a minute by minute engagement with the families of the captives.

“This should ease their pain and anxiety as we push the military to finding a safe return to their families. My aim is to see all those in captivity safely rescued.

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“Let me assure Nigerians that the bandits are just pushing their luck, but this is only for a while before they are finally crushed. They are using civilians as human shields, thereby making it difficult to confront them directly,” he said.

“They don’t care about killing their hostages if they come under attack. It’s a delicate situation that requires wisdom, caution and also patience. Any rescue operation that results in the death of any hostage cannot be deemed a success.

“The government doesn’t want this kind of tragic outcome. It’s a complex situation that demands proper handling. The primary objective of any rescue operation is to free the hostages safely, unharmed and alive.

“Let me make it clear, however, that defeating the terrorists and bandits requires more than weapons; we also need human intelligence which is necessary to frustrate terrorist plans. The people and community leaders should help our security officials with information about the activities or movements of criminal groups.”

Buhari urged Nigerians to create a hostile environment for criminals hiding in communities.

He added, “By protecting criminals from exposure, you are endangering your own security and the security of your own community. No criminal can thrive in an environment where he faces the risks of exposure by the people.

“This administration has allocated huge resources to improve the capacity of our security forces by timely giving them adequate equipment and improving the welfare of personnel to boost their morale.

“Abuja has witnessed remarkable improvements in terms of security. In the past terrorists had made it almost impossible to conduct our normal lives. Road barricades had overrun the capital city and people had to pray in fear because of the anxiety of terrorist attacks. No place in FCT was beyond the terrorist. Not the United Nations building, nor the Police Headquarters.

“But today, the situation is no longer so. We have significantly weakened and crippled the capabilities of the Boko Haram terrorists so much that they no longer have the ability to seize, and occupy any Nigerian territory without being repelled by our gallant troops.

“Of course, we can’t say that the terrorists are one hundred percent destroyed, but we have destroyed their ability to seize our territory. This improvement in terms of significantly weakening the enemy is necessary for finally defeating them. The rate at which the terrorists are giving up their weapons and surrendering to our troops is a significant and welcome development.”

The President commended the FCT Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello for diligently ensuring the capital city stays safe and attractive, while thanking the FCT residents for visiting the Presidential Villa.

“It’s my pleasure to welcome you all to the presidential villa. As is the tradition, people pay homage to the President as part of the events to mark the Sallah celebration.

“I value these kinds of visits because they afford me the opportunity to interact directly with the people or their representatives. I commend the FCT residents for living in peace and harmony for years since the capital officially came into being,” the President said.

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