Relatives of Kaduna train victims have resorted to self-help in an attempt to secure the release of their loved ones from captivity. Despite their protests and appeal by several people, their families still remain in captivity and the only way out, according to them, is the payment of N100 million. Some of the victims’ relatives spoke to Daily Trust about their plights and pains in raising such an amount of money.
Over 150 days after 61 persons were kidnapped on the Kaduna-Abuja train service; families of the remaining 23 victims have continued to struggle to raise the N100 million ransom demanded by the abductors of their loved ones in exchange for their freedom.
On March 28, a Kaduna-bound train was attacked by gunmen with several persons killed, injured and abducted.
- Inside Nasarawa’s proposed N1.2bn teaching hospital rotting away
- UN urges reduced marginalization, vulnerability in conflict-affected persons
Since then, there have been a series of negotiations, protests and ransom payments to secure their release.
Daily Trust recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari had, sometime in August, met with relatives of the abducted victims in Abuja, where he assured them that efforts were being made to ensure the safe rescue of the remaining persons in captivity.
The abductors had previously released three batches of the captives including the managing director of the Bank of Agriculture, Alwan Hassan, a group of 11 victims and a pregnant woman.
Daily Trust had reported how relatives of some of the victims paid N800m to the terrorists for the release of seven additional victims, including a Pakistani national.
However, a family of six including four children and their parents were released after an intervention by Sheikh Ahmad Gumi.
The last batch of victims was released about three weeks ago including an 85-year-old woman, Halimatu Atta, her daughter and two other victims after also paying N100m each to their captives. Since then, no other captive has been released due to the inability of their families to raise the ransom.
Our correspondent who spoke with some of the family members gathered that they have been unable to raise the N100m ransom and fear for the lives of their relatives.
According to Malam Usman Habibu Katungu, the 68-year-old father of one of the victims identified as Aminu Usman popularly called Dan Nasarawa, the continuous abduction of his son is very troubling.
Malam Usman, who has been confined to a wheelchair following the loss of his limbs, noted that the family has left everything in the hands of God because they do not have the means of raising the ransom.
A driver by profession, Malam Haruna said Aminu, who is over 40 years and a staff of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) in Kaduna, has been the family’s breadwinner since he lost his limbs some years ago.
“Since Aminu’s abduction, his mother, Hussaina Yakubu, has been finding it very difficult to cope with the situation. If she is not crying, she is deep in thought, fearing the condition her son is in,” he said.
He however said the Federal Government has not shown real efforts to get the victims released as family members of all the released victims were forced to pay outrageous sums as ransom.
“We saw him in the picture released by their captives, but right now, I do not know what condition he is in. We feel abandoned by the federal government which has the responsibility of protecting its citizens and it seems the FG is indifferent to our plight. Those in power do not care what happens to the victims,” he stated.
He narrated how the family is making frantic efforts to raise the N100m saying, “We are doing our best to raise the money; many people have made various contributions for us to come up with the ransom. Even the governor of Nasarawa State has also come in because we are from Nasarawa State.”
He reminded leaders that they will account for their actions on the day of judgement and asked them, as a matter of urgency, to secure the freedom of their relatives.
However, Muhammadu Sabiu, whose younger brother, Abdullahi Muhammad, a National Youth Corps Member (NYSC) is one of the train victims, said though his brother was wearing his NYSC uniform when he was captured, the federal government has failed to secure his freedom in the last five months.
He said, “The bandits have not contacted us directly, but the family began efforts to raise the ransom seeing that N100m was paid by the other victims before they were released.”
On how the family is raising the money, he said, “It is very worrisome that family members of some of the victims were forced to sell their property to raise the ransom, but then again, at least they have a property to sell.
“If you notice, since the release of the last victims about three weeks ago, none have been released again. This is because the remaining victims are from poor homes and do not have the means to pay a such an outrageous ransom and so have resorted to prayers.”
He however disclosed that the family has opened an appeal fund to seek contributions from family, friends and well-meaning Nigerians.
Narrating how destiny put his brother on the train that fateful day, Muhammadu said, “Abdullahi had just been redeployed from Yola, Adamawa State to Minna in Niger State. He went to Minna for his documentation, and after his documentation, he decided to move to Kubwa station in Abuja where he bordered the Kaduna-Abuja train because of the insecurity on the Kaduna-Abuja highway. Unfortunately, since he boarded that train and the attack that occurred, we have not heard from him.”
While others have lost hope that the government will come to their aid, he said, “We have written several letters to President Muhammadu Buhari and we even met with him in person. We told him that the abductors requested ransom and we did not have the means to raise such an amount, but up till now, we have not seen any genuine efforts being made by the government to secure the release of our relatives.”
He added, “As Muslims, we believe in destiny and Allah has destined that we will go through what we are presently passing through. I believe that when it is time for them to be released, they will be released God’s willing.
“It is just so unfortunate that the continuous captivity of Abdullahi is taking a toll on our parent’s health, especially our father who has been sick for a while. This trauma has further worsened his condition because he has been in a wheelchair for the past three years due to his deteriorating health.”
He called on Nigerians to continuously pray for the release of the remaining captives while urging the government to explore all avenues to secure their freedom.