Train attack: Why victims kidnapped, others still in captivity

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret’d) said on Monday that the tactics deployed by the terrorists who attacked the train bound for Abuja-Kaduna and other bandits using their victims as human shields were responsible for the delay in rescuing those abducted from their lair from the kidnappers.

It was then that the president assured the families of the abducted victims that efforts were underway to ensure the safe return of all those held by bandits, adding that he had ordered security agencies and the Nigerian Railway Corporation to provide more regular and detailed information to families.

Receiving FCT residents at State House on Monday to pay their respects to Sallah, the president said the government would explore all avenues to secure the captives alive and unharmed.

This was contained in a statement by Buhari’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, titled “Train attack: Bandits using captives as human shields, we are working for the safe return of all, President Buhari assures families.”

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

“I have ordered security agencies to ensure the speedy and safe recovery of all abduction victims. I urge railroad management to immediately set up a crisis room for coordination of the rescue mission and for minute-by-minute engagement with the families of the captives.

“This should ease their pain and anxiety as we push service members to find a safe return to their families. My goal is to see everyone in captivity rescued safely.

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

According to the President, bandits and terrorists, unlike professional soldiers, do not respect the rules of engagement and may resort to hostage assault when attacked.

“They don’t care to kill their hostages if they are attacked. It is a delicate situation which requires wisdom, prudence and also patience. Any rescue operation resulting in the death of a hostage cannot be considered a success.

“The government does not want this kind of tragic outcome. It is a complex situation that requires good management. The main objective of any rescue operation is to free the hostages unharmed and alive.

“Let me clarify, however, that defeating terrorists and bandits requires more than weapons; we also need the human intelligence that is necessary to thwart terrorist plans. Individuals and community leaders should assist our security officials with information on the activities or movements of criminal groups,” he added.

President Buhari has urged Nigerians to create a hostile environment for criminals lurking in communities, warning that “by protecting criminals from exposure, you endanger your own security and the security of your own community. No criminal can thrive in an environment where he faces the risks of being exposed by people.

The president said stronger synergy between security agencies and communities would make a huge difference in the fight against banditry and terrorism in the country.

President Buhari has allayed fears that the bandits could become another big challenge to the Boko Haram threat, assuring the administration will not allow that to happen.

“This administration has allocated enormous resources to improve the capability of our security forces by timely equipping them with adequate equipment and improving personnel welfare to boost morale.

“Abuja has seen remarkable improvements in terms of security. In the past, terrorists had made it nearly impossible to lead a normal life. Road barricades had invaded the capital and people had to pray in fear because of the anguish of the terrorist attacks. No place in the FCT was beyond the terrorist. Not the United Nations building, nor the police headquarters.

“But today, the situation is no longer the same. We have greatly weakened and crippled the capabilities of Boko Haram terrorists to such an extent that they no longer have the ability to seize and occupy any Nigerian territory without being repelled by our valiant troops.

“Of course, we cannot say that the terrorists are 100 percent destroyed, but we have destroyed their ability to take over our territory. This improvement in terms of significantly weakening the enemy is necessary to finally defeat him. The rate at which terrorists are abandoning their weapons and surrendering to our troops is an important and welcome development,” he told FCT residents.

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