Terrorists who attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train have threatened to kill those in their captivity unless the government meets them.
‘’Government should hasten to meet us before we turn this place into an abattoir because killing these people is nothing to us. It’s not about money, we can’t do this for money. The government knows what we want,’’ the terrorists said in a viral video released late Wednesday.
Recall that the terrorists attacked the Kaduna-bound train, killing eight passengers, injuring 41 and kidnapping scores of others.
This came as a group of pastors, under the aegis of Inter-faith Alliance, yesterday staged a peaceful protest against the incessant attacks and killings by bandits in Kaduna State, pleading with government to embark on massive bombardment of bandits/terrorists in their hideouts.
As at Wednesday, the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, had said 141 passengers taken away were unreachable but the terrorists claimed they had in their custody 168 persons, out of which the acting managing Director of Bank of Agriculture, BOA, Alwan Ali Hassan, was released after alleged payment of N100 million ransom.
Speaking further in Hausa, the terrorist said: “We are the people who abducted these people in the train some days back. This one ( BoA MD) you can see him, because of his old age and in this month of Ramadan, we pitied him and decided to release him to his relations.
“The government should know that this is nothing. We just pitied him.’’
In the short video, the terrorists, dressed in military fatigues, wielding arms, threatened to kill the remaining 167 passengers should government fail to negotiate with them. The NRC had claimed that 398 passengers bought ticket for the trip, while 362 boarded for the journey.
Vanguard gathered that the terrorists wanted negotiation with the government on possible prisoners’ swap, which perhaps explains the reason they said they were not after money.
Having been granted permission by the terrorists to speak in the video, the BOA boss said: “I would like to let you know that these people (terrorists) pitied me and allowed me to go because of my age.
“But I have left many people behind in a condition that they need help. The government should contact the leaders of this group and negotiate their release because they are in a situation that needs immediate help.”
Abductors have collected N250m ransom so far
Multiple sources told Vanguard that the terrorists have so far collected about N250 million from the hostages.
Apart from the Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture who reportedly paid N100 million to secure his freedom, three other persons, it was learned, paid N50 million each to secure release.
According to one of the security sources, it has been fully established that Boko Haram commanders, in collaboration with some bandits leaders, carried out the Kaduna train attack and had been in charge of negotiations for the collection of ransom.
“The Boko Haram elements have fully established their base in Rijana forest and it will take sustained efforts to uproot them. It was from there that they planned and carried out the Kaduna train bombing operations,” a source said.
Sergeant Funtua, the victim of train attack, dies
The viral video came at a time one of the passengers shot aboard the train, Sergeant Mohammed Haruna Funtua, died of the gunshot wounds he suffered on the day of the attack.
It was gathered that the ex-soldier died on Tuesday in his home town, Funtua, in Katsina State, where he was taken for treatment.
“The ex-soldier died as a result of multiple injuries he sustained during the attack, said a source who disclosed that he was shot in the head and chest.
He was said to be one of those rescued by the soldiers who stormed the scene of the attack for a rescue operation.
“He was later conveyed to his town in Funtua for further treatment where he finally died on Tuesday,” Malam Idi, a relation, told Vanguard yesterday.
Pastors protest killings in Kaduna, demand massive bombing of bandits
Reacting to the frequent killings and abductions of people in Kaduna, a group of pastors under the umbrella of Inter-Faith Alliance, have staged a peaceful protest, and called on the Federal Government to bomb the bandits/terrorists in the state and elsewhere in the country.
The protest came days after 17 soldiers were killed and some others injured by the bandits who attacked a military base in the Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area of the state.
The religious leaders marched through the major roads of the Kaduna metropolis with placards of various inscriptions.
They said although the security forces were trying their best in the fight against banditry and terrorism, their best wasn’t good enough.
They appealed to the Federal Government to implement submissions made by Governor Nasir El-Rufai and launch a massive and precise bombing of bandits’ locations in the forests.
The pastors also appealed to the government to compensate all victims of bandits attacks, award scholarships to children affected by banditry, and also rebuild communities ravaged by attacks.
According to them, these measures will cushion the suffering of the victims and make them overcome the psychological trauma they may be experiencing as a result of the attacks.
High profile terrorist commander surrenders – DHQ
In a similar development, the Defence Headquarters said yesterday that a notable commander of Boko Haram terrorists, Saleh Mustapha, has surrendered to troops of Operation Hadin Kai, noting that 51,114 terrorists in the North-East had so far surrendered.
Director, Defence Media Operations, Major-General Bernard Onyeuko, who disclosed this while addressing newsmen on the operations of the military between March 25 and April 7 in Abuja, said the surrender of Mustapha, popularly known as Inn Kathir, who was the Qaid of Garin Ba-Abba, to troops in Bama was significant.
He added that a total of 51,114 terrorists and families comprising 11,398 men, 15,381 women, 24,335 children had so far surrendered to troops as at April 5.
According to him, all surrendered terrorists have been documented, while arrested, rescued civilians and recovered items have been handed over to the appropriate authorities for further action.
He said that in the last two weeks, troops recovered one battle tank, five artillery guns, two GTS and three AA guns.
He listed others to include one Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, three gun trucks, One MOWAG Armoured Personnel Carrier and two RPG tubes.
“Other items recovered are three RPG rockets, three RPG bombs, one NSVT gun, two GPMG, one light MG, one PKM, three GPMG belts and four belts of PKT rounds.
“Also recovered are 600 7.62mm NATO rounds, 16 AK-47 rifles, one Dane gun, 270 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, one Toyota Buffalo vehicle, one Golf saloon car, four motorcycles, six magazines, two pairs of camouflage, two terrorist flags, one tricycle and one active drone,” he said.
Onyeuko said the troops also neutralised scores of terrorists, while 22 terrorist spies, 11 terrorists and three logistics suppliers were arrested, with 30 civilians rescued during the period.
He said the air component conducted air interdictions which took out heavy stockpiles of ISWAP weapons in their depots between March 28 and March 31 at Bukar Meiram and 2km South of Kollaram.
“The land component, with the support of the air component conducted offensive operations at different locations of the theatre such as Ukuba/Camp Zairo, Sabil Huda, Ba Masaa, Wulgo, Marta,fulatari village, Uraha Crossing Point, Mbalala, Gamboru town all in Borno.
“Notably, among the exploits of our troops was the capture of the terrorists’ stronghold by Ukba/Camp Zairo in Sambisa Forest where some artillery guns, armoured personnel carriers, trailers and large caches of arms and ammunition were captured.
“Troops also destroyed terrorist enclaves, captured some terrorists, destroyed terrorists improvised explosive making factory,” he added.
Reps to probe lapses, poor intelligence gathering by security agencies
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has mandated its Committee on National Security and Intelligence to investigate the perceived lack of synergy among security agencies which it claimed had led to poor intelligence gathering, to further compound the insecurity in the country.
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion on the need to strengthen the intelligence gathering capacity of security agencies in Nigeria, sponsored by Dennis Idahosa at plenary yesterday.
Presenting the motion, Idahosa said the absence of synergy among security agencies has resulted in the “recent rising sequence of insecurity across the country in the form of kidnappings, terrorism and cattle rustling and farmers/herders conflicts.”
He also noted that the situation could be attributed to the dearth of timely and adequate intelligence-gathering which has rendered security activities in the country ineffective.
“This encourages attacks by insurgents, bandits and kidnappers due to the absence of intelligence that would have prompted pre-emptive or proactive actions by the security forces.
“The lack of professional handling of sensitive intelligence (information) has led to colossal loss of lives and properties across the country, particularly in the North-East and North-West zones.
“The frosty relationship among the security forces and the citizens is another challenge to security operations, hence the near-collapse of the gathering of intelligence. There’s need to improve the professional standards of Nigeria’s security agencies in the aggressive gathering of intelligence and restructuring of the general intelligence architecture.’’
Adopting the motion, the House gave the committee eight weeks to conduct the investigation and report back for further legislative action.
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