Train attack: Reps ask Buhari to secure release of remaining 51 kidnapped victims

EMERGENCY DIGEST- The House of  Representatives yesterday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to expedite action to secure the release of remaining 51 passengers kidnapped during the Abuja-Kaduna train attack by terrorists.

It also urged the federal government to urgently set up a high-powered inter-agency panel to coordinate efforts for release of citizens in the custody of bandits and terrorists across the country as well as offer help to families of kidnapped persons in accordance with best global practice.

The call followed the consideration of a motion presented at plenary by Bamidele Salam and 10 others.

It will be recalled that Salam penultimate week, staged a lone walk in Abuja to press for release of the kidnapped victims.

In the motion, the lawmaker noted that Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), stated that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government; even as Section 17(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution states that the sanctity of the human person shall be recognized and human dignity maintained and enhanced.

He noted that in the last 10 years, terrorism, banditry, kidnappings and other forms of violent crimes had become a raging security epidemic in different parts of the country.

Quoting the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, Bamidele said since 2018, there had been a rapid increase in kidnapping, with a rise from 987 victims in 2018 to 1,395 in 2019;

He said: “The figure of kidnapped persons increased to 2,865 in 2020 and 5,287 in 2021.  Over 70 % of victims of kidnappings are children, women and elderly persons who were violently attacked and captured by criminals in the normal course of their daily activities on the farms, villages, roads, worship centers and other places.”

“A large number of these kidnapped citizens have remained in captivity for so many years, months and days without any form of sustained help to secure their release or any social, medical or economic support to their grieving family members by government.

“Some of the unresolved cases of kidnappings include the remnant of the Chibok girls kidnapped in 2014, the kidnap of Leah Sharibu since February 2018, the Islamiyya School students kidnapped in Niger State on 30th May, 2021, the Bethel Baptist High School Kaduna students kidnapped on July 5, 2021 and the Federal Government College, Birnin-Yauri students kidnapped on October 21, 2021.

“In the current year 2022, there have been over 100 cases of kidnappings and abduction of innocent Nigerians; One of the most disturbing being the case of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack of March 28.”

Bamidele expressed sadness that during the train attack, 168 Nigerians were reportedly kidnapped, while eight persons were killed, including a young doctor due to travel out of the country, the week the incident occurred.

He recalled that the abductors of the train attack victims recently released pictures and video footages of 62 victims held hostage in terrible, physical and emotional conditions, with a threat to kill them if their demands were not met by the Federal Government.

“The hostages include children, aged 2, 5, 7 and 9years; men nursing bullet wounds sustained during the attack; a victim had his leg amputated; diabetic patients, while others are citizens with various health challenges as well as a nursing mother.

“Stories told by 11 of the hostages recently released by the kidnappers depict the increasing deteriorating condition of the remaining hostages, including children and women, who are getting malnourished, emotionally distressed and psychologically traumatized for over 70 days in the forest.

“If nothing urgent is done to secure freedom for these citizens and hundreds of others in captivity across the country, there may be an increasing loss of confidence in government which may embolden criminally-minded persons and groups to step up these acts of criminality and thus endanger stability of our dear country,” the lawmaker added.

Adopting the motion, the House directed all relevant committees of the House to ensure compliance with the resolution.

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